The COVID-19 crisis has led to an increase in the average screen time of people. People are busy spending a lot of time watching television, and on digital devices like computers, mobiles, and tablets more than ever! Getting hooked to electronic devices for long uninterrupted hours is causing digital eye strain, aka computer vision syndrome in people
What is computer vision syndrome?
Computer vision syndrome is a temporary eye condition that results from focusing on a digital screen for a long time without breaks. Suffering from CVS does not only affect eyesight but also hampers an individual’s productivity.
Why is computer vision syndrome concerning?
Computer vision syndrome (CVS) affects around 60 million people globally. It has become even more concerning in the times of COVID-19 for well-being for a person. A study shows that nearly half of the population in the world will be short-sighted (myopic) by 2050. One of the primary reasons associated with this eye condition would be the effects of prolonged usage of digital devices or televisions every day.
Symptoms of computer vision syndrome
- Eye Strain
- Blurred vision
- Neck ache
- Dry eyes
- Shoulder pain
Computer vision syndrome (digital eye strain) causes
There are various causes associated with computer vision syndrome, like:
- Less of blinking
When you are hooked to any electronic devices, you tend to blink less. Less blinking causes dry eyes. Blinking is the natural reflex of eyes to keep it moist. An average person blinks about 16-20 times in a minute. If blinking reduces to 6-8 times in a minute, then gradually, it results in dry eyes and becomes a cause for computer vision syndrome.
- Improper workstation
If you have not set up your workstation in a proper way, then it could cause computer vision syndrome. You need to adjust the monitor, desk, chair, and lighting in the room also so that your eyes don’t feel strained.
- Dry environment and dehydration:
AC’s in offices strip the air of its moisture, thereby making the environment dry. This dryness, an improper workstation, or bad sitting posture, makes people prone to computer vision syndrome.
- Don’t use devices right before going to bed
It will require a bit of planning, but it is important to take a break from the screen at least two hours before you go to bed. Studies show that blue light emitting from screens can affect natural sleep and wake-up cycle.
Ways to deal with computer vision syndrome during COVID-19 pandemic
- Blink often
Remember to blink while watching television or doing work on any digital device. Don’t let your eyes dry out. Be mindful of blinking and keeping your eyes lubricated. Encourage others around you to blink at least 18 times per minute.
- Take frequent breaks
Have you heard of the 20-20-20 rule? While working on a computer or any digital device, take a break every 20 minutes and look at distant objects (at least 20 feet away) for 20 seconds. This habit will break the continuity of the screen.
- Modify your workplace
You need to rework on the place where you generally sit to work or binge-watch. Keep a distance of a foot away from the monitor or the gadget when sitting straight. Adjust the brightness of the screen. Make sure to put an anti-glare screen to your device to avoid eye strain. Use proper lighting in the room. Avoid excessive or under lighting.
- Exercise even when sitting
Whenever you get time, exercise even when sitting. Stretch your neck and shoulders frequently. During break time, move your arms and legs. Walk a bit.
Few other tips to avoid computer vision syndrome for children
- Drink plenty of water
Children don’t pay attention to drinking water unless they’re thirsty. Drinking water keeps the body hydrated. It not only flushes out body waste but also regulates body temperature. It helps in maintaining blood pressure and boosts healthy skin. It also helps in forming saliva and mucus. Most importantly, it hydrates eyes, flushes out salt, and reduces eye strain.
- Customized furniture for your child
From online classes to a lot of digital content consumption for entertainment, children are also spending a considerable amount of their time on-screen during the lockdown phase. Parents need to ensure to have a customized furniture setting that suits their child’s sitting posture and refrain from neck or body ache.
- Setting screen time for kids
Parents need to ensure that even in the lockdown period, children don’t spend a lot of time on screen. Set time for their screen time activities. Instead, for entertainment, ask them to indulge in traditional indoor games like ludo, chess, etc.
- Avoid rubbing eyes
Parents should keep a check on their children if they are rubbing their eyes too much. It could be an indicator of dry eyes or some eye infection. Insufficient blinking also leads to dry eyes. if your child does not stop rubbing frequently and complains about irritating red eyes consult the nearest eye specialist.
Eat more greens
Include green leafy vegetables in your diet to keep your body and eyes healthy. The nutrients present in green vegetables like lutein and zeaxanthin carry anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants that keep the eyes healthy. When it comes to eye care, Centre for Sight is always there at your service.
By: Dr Ritika Sachdev , Additional Director, Centre For Sight Group of Hospitals,