By Dr. Mridula P, Consultant- Ophthalmology, Columbia Asia Hospital Hebbal
The COVID 19 pandemic has maximized the digital device usage among people of all age groups. Working professionals and students have switched to remote work and schooling to avoid stepping out of the house and minimize the spread of the novel coronavirus. But the remote working and online learning have increased the strain on the eyes due to increased screen time.
The work from home concept has made us increase our work hours due to time flexibility. Also, online classes have made children spend more time using devices like laptops and mobiles. After the school hours, kids are glued to the TV or computer again as they cannot step out for any outdoor activities. Due to this many complain about eye related problems.
Digital eye strain occurs as the eyes have to focus and refocus all the time. Eyes always react to images that are constantly moving by shifting focus and communicating rapidly varying images to the brain. This can strain eye muscles. Due to the focus required, one starts blinking less frequently leading to dryness in the eye and blurred vision. Digital eye strain may not cause permanent eye damage however it can create discomfort and pain while working. Factors, such as screen or font size, glare, luminosity and contrast, viewing distance or angle, all can increase discomfort and exacerbate vision problems. Blurry vision, headaches, neck pain and eye dryness are the indications that your eyes need rest. And these signs and factors can be handled if proper tips are followed while exposed to screen time. Here are few healthy practices that one can follow-
Position your screen correctly: Top line of the computer screen should be 15-20 degrees below eye level (or about 4-5 inches) and put the screen directly Infront of you and at least 20 inches away.
Think about lighting: Tilt or position the computer screen in a way that it minimizes glare from overhead lighting or windows, and if there’s no way to cut glare, consider using an anti-glare screen to decrease reflected light.
Correct your posture: Adjust your chair height so that your feet are resting flat on the floor, back is straight and wrists aren’t strained while typing.
Remember to blink: To minimize dry or discomfort in eyes when using your computer, be sure to blink frequently to keep the ocular surface moist.
Take frequent breaks: It is advised to take at least 20 seconds break every 20 minutes while working on your computer. Every 20 minutes look at an object which is 20 feet away and stare at it for 20 seconds. Allow your eyes a chance to refocus. For every two hours of continuous computer use, consider resting your eyes for 15 minutes. Every 20 minutes look at an object which is 20 feet away and stare at it for 20 seconds.
Additionally, it is suggested to take font size and distance into consideration while using any device. Ensure the screen is large enough for the task at hand, opt for a tablet or desktop screen over a smartphone when reading small fonts, or consider a larger screen when viewing large amounts of content. Maintain an appropriate eye to screen distance while working.
Visit your eye specialist as soon as you develop any irritation, dryness, pain or discomfort in your eyes.