Shun prolonged use of digital screens to keep eyes healthy - GulfToday

Shun prolonged use of digital screens to keep eyes healthy


Photo has been used for illustrative purposes.

Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter

An oft-repeated advice. Yet, due to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the subsequent remote work and school environs, two ophthalmologists and an orthopaedician surgeon have reiterated the need for everyone to relax and take a breather from screens and the television set everyday.

Consultant ophthalmologist Dr. Miguel Morcillo of Moorfield’s Eye Hospital (Dubai) and specialist ophthalmologist Dr. Muhammad Alburm of the Emirates Specialty Hospital (Dubai) have noted increasing prevalence of Computer Vision Syndrome (CSV) or Digital Eye Strain (DES). Consultant orthopaedician surgeon Dr. Mujeeb Mahammad Shaikh of the Thumbay Physical and Rehabilitation Hospital (Ajman) recorded a spike on the “text-neck disorder” synonymous to back-and-neck pain. They did not disclose specific numbers.

Morcillo told Gulf Today on Saturday: “The accountants, lawyers, call centre agents have more chances to develop CSV or DES. Previously, it is only these people and others who have direct relation to computer work for hours were being affected. However now, the affected come from different sectors as many employees have turned to virtual meetings and more time spent indoors watching TV.”

He answered in the affirmative when asked on whether Moorfield’s has registered additions to screen-related eye problems from March due to the pandemic and people have to be dependent for long hours on the personal computers, laptops or smart phones in order to transact businesses, go for online/digital education, including precious virtual bonding moments with families and friends.

He said: “(With) the telework largely implemented, the complaints related to the long hours of staring at the digital screens have also increased.”

Morcillo and Alburm described CVS or DES as a group of vision-related problems arising from prolonged use of computers, cellphones and tablets.

Alburm also said: “Most of these cases happen because the virtual demands of the tasks exceed the visual abilities of the individual to comfortably perform them.”

“Higher-risk individuals are those who spend two hours continuously using the digital screen device (daily),” he added.

Alburm claimed that because of the COVID-19, he has seen patients between the ages of 16 and 45 complaining of CVS/DES signs and symptoms. These are “eye strain, headache, blurry vision, and neck-and-shoulder pain: “The syndrome is actually more common now especially after the lockdown status and the new system of studying which have led to more increased time of using the digital screens.”

Approximately 20 per cent of Alburm’s patients are annoyed by what they have been going through.

On the “text-neck” disorder, Shaikh said: “In most cases, what starts as a mild uneasiness at the start of the stay-at-home period eventually turns into severe pain and extreme discomfort requiring medical attention. Most of these injuries are the prolonged periods of sitting in slouching or bent positions.”

Alburm mentioned that “improper position (alongside) poor lighting, improper work distance from the screen, and any uncorrected eye vision problems namely Hypermetropia (longsightedness), Astigmatism (nearsightedness), and Presbyopia (longsightedness among the middle-aged and the elderly) contribute to CVS or DES.

“The closer the person is to the screen, the more chances for the CVS or DES (to occur),” he pointed out.

The eye doctors said a relief to the CVS or DES is the “20-20-20” strategy, which, Morcillo detailed as the “20-second break to view something 20 feet away every 20 seconds when using the digital screen.”

Basic is eye check-up for possible “refraction error so that the proper eyeglasses (are prescribed),” said Alburm.

Alburm added that a 15-minute break every two hours of continuous exposure to screen helps.

Other solutions are the use of eye drops due to dryness, good lighting, good posture, adjusted viewing angle of the digital screen, and visual therapy exercises to make the eyes better coordinated with the brain.

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