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Fit & Proper: Help your screen-stressed eyes

Vipul Majumdar is a 35-year-old economist at an investment bank. He has to pore over large volumes of data on his desktop, as well as keep a constant check on the stock market trends on his laptop, LCD TV and smartphone. Most of his day is spent in front of bright digital screens concentrating on rapidly changing figures, and his eyes are bearing the brunt of this. He is already wearing glasses with high power, but lately increased eye strain has caused pain and itching in his eyes . The strain is also interfering with his sleep.
Corporate employees whose job profile entails sitting hunched in front of the computer are, predictably, the worst-hit group suffering from various eye-related illnesses like burning, itching, tiredness, redness, watering of the eyes, dry eyes, blurry vision, insomnia, headache and chronic conjunctivitis. While staring at the computer, the eye exerts a lot of energy to focus on the mid-distance range of the screen and after some time, the muscles become tired and stressed. All of this strain can extend to the head, neck and shoulders. Repetitive staring can also disrupt the natural blinking process, resulting in dry eyes.

Blue light, technically known as high-energy visible (HEV) light, is a particularly intense light wave emitted by many modern electronics, including computers, tablets and smartphones. The blue and violet part of the light spectrum can be dangerous to the eyes. Over exposure to HEV light can damage the retina, the part of the eye that brings objects into focus. Blue light penetrates the macular pigment of the eye and causes a breakdown of that protective shield. This leaves the eye more susceptible to blue light exposure and cell degeneration. Over time, accumulated damage can increase the likelihood and severity of eye disorders such as age-related muscular degeneration and cataracts. Thus, apps like f.lux and Twilight (that make your device screen adapt to the time of the day) are helpful in reducing the exposure of HEV lights to some extent. As a doctor, I will advise you to switch all your gadgets off (including phones and laptop) in your bedroom half an hour before bedtime.

QUICK TIPS

  • While reading from your smartphone, keep it at least 13 to 20 inches from your face.
  • Look downward at a 15-degree angle. This will increase the surface area your eyelids cover, keeping your eyes moist and relaxed. Also, invest in an anti-glare protective cover and follow the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look away for 20 seconds at something that’s at least 20 inches away.
  • Pen exercise: Hold a pen in front of you at an arm’s length. Focus on the pen for approximately three seconds and switch the eyes to an object at a distance, either inside the room or outside. After focusing on the distant thing for 2-3 seconds, return your focus on the pen for another three seconds. Repeat 5-6 times.
  • Eye stretch: This is another simple eye exercise. Stretch your eyes as far as possible by looking up, down, left and right repeatedly. Do the same exercise in the reverse direction.
  • Use lubricating eye drops (artificial tears) if the eyes feel dry and itchy.
  • Remember to go for an annual eye checkup if you wear glasses.
  • Adjust the brightness of your device. Consider changing your background colour from bright white to cool gray.

Next week: How to manage adult acne triggered by stress and poor eating habits


Satish Mehta
Opthalmology consultant, Moolchand Medcity, New Delhi

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