Digital Eye Strain

Increased computer usage leads to computer vision syndrome /DES. Last two decades have seen overuse of digital technology. Commonly reported ocular complaints among computer users working for >6 hours /day burning sensation in 66.70 patients, eye strain in 53.8% and itching in 47.60% patients. Common practices that lead to ocular complaints  are screen level at or above eye level. The use of computer has become now an essential part of everyones life. Todays jobs require to stare at computer hours together. Jobs like IT, BPO, Accounting, banking, front office, students and other professionals are dependant on computers.

Computer vision syndrome can affect any age group but children report less symptoms because probably they have more power of accommodation, which decreases with age. Working adults aren’t the only ones affected. Kids who stare at tablets or use computers during the day at school can have issues, too, especially if the lighting and their posture are less than ideal. Children are also well adapted to near work, nevertheless they continue to overstrain their visual systems. Those persons who already have some sort of ocular problems are at more risk of computer vision syndrome.

It isn’t one specific problem. Instead, it includes a whole range of eye strain and pain. Research shows that between 50% and 90% of people who work at a computer screen have at least some symptoms.

Like most electrical appliances, computers emit both ionizing and non-ionizing radiation. These include visible light, ultraviolet, infrared, x-ray and radio frequency emissions. However, computer emissions are often so low as to be unmeasurable or are found to be significantly below recommended safety levels. Numerous studies have been conducted to determine what effect, if any, radiation levels emitted from computers may have on workers’ health. Repeated studies to date have failed to find any direct link between computer use and radiation related general or eye health problems. (There Cincinnati: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 1977) There is no evidence that radiation from computers contributes to the development of cataracts. While not technically a form of radiation, most computers will build up an electrostatic charge in the vicinity of the screen surface. Static charges can cause the attraction and accumulation of dust and other airborne particles on the face of the computer screen. Although there is no conclusive evidence, it has been suggested that these charges may be related to the development of skin rash or eye irritation in some very sensitive people. This problem can usually be managed by cleaning the computer screen. Various negative side effects of CVS can be:

•             Poor visual functions

•             Increased stress levels

•             Reduced effective work hours

•             Frequent absence from work

•             Possible increase in errors

•             Less time available for personal care and reversal

Some tips to overcome the problem are:

•             Minimize glare

•             Use proper lighting

•             Blink more frequently

•             Adjust your computer display settings like using blue light

•             Exercise your eyes like focusing on distant object

•             Take frequent breaks.

To ease symptoms of fatigue, everyone using screens should be advised to follow the 20:20:20 rule, whereby every 20 minutes, individuals should take a 20-second break and focus on an object 20 feet away.

Frequent use of artificial tear drops as excessive use of computer is associated with some amount of dry eye.

A review evaluation is necessary for anyone who works on computer if not 6 monthly but yearly should be done.

The idea of this article is to generate awareness among the masses regarding excessive use of laptops, tablets and mobiles as everything in excess is detrimental to health.

Dr Rayees Ahmad  is an Ophthalmologist at District Hospital Ganderbal