What If Your Ability To Read Depended On Whether You Read This?
A quick analysis of your devices, how many do you have? How much time do you spend on them? How many times have you been involuntarily exposed to screens? Do you have any eye protection? These are one of the few questions that you might need to answer before you lose your sight. Jokes aside, on average, a person spends 4 hours on their device, and 50% do not carry protective eyeglasses in usual occasions (Smith, 2015), and in Rwanda it is worse. This signifies how our eyes are in danger as time goes. While tech is on the rise, more devices are going to enter the consumer market, and more devices are going to be extremely affordable for people around the country.
Are You Going To Throw Away That 4K Curved TV?
Of course, you’re not going to do that, and you will not stop replying to school emails. We are in a digital world where it’s impossible not to stare at a screen. However, the protective measures we take with millions of screens around us make a considerable difference. A question might be popping up in your mind asking, “Why should I care?”, and there are so many reasons why you should.
First of all, Retinal damage is serious —digital devices produce blue light from screens, which reaches the inner lining of the back part of our eyes known as the retina. Light sensitive cells in the retina are the most affected part of the eye, and several studies have shown that this blue light from screens can damage the light-sensitive cells located in the retina. This damage can lead to early age-related macular degeneration, this results in sight loss (Yanoga, 2019). There is a more significant risk regarding being affected by children than it is for adults when exposed to blue light.
Second, you should care because long screen usage leads to eye fatigue. You’re in a state where your eyes can’t hold it anymore, you continuously want to close them —eye fatigue results in severe headaches and loss of concentration. You might have been losing your focus lately and don’t know why you were not able to? Remember, eye fatigue can bring about loss of concentration as well.
Third, while working on a computer, we blink 66% less than the usual. (Sindt, 2020). Blinking less will cause the eyes to feel dry, irritated and to burn, and this results in blurry vision in a more extended period. So technically, blinking less contributes to a blurred vision.
You Still Don’t Care?
We are not going to stop watching our favourite TV show, and neither are we stopping to use our phones given the fact that the pandemic has to some degree given more time for people to spend on their devices. In the end, it comes back to you as an individual. Computer Vision Syndrome is a collection of all side effects that come from prolonged use of computers, smartphones and tablets. It does not only arise from prolonged exposure to bright screens. There are also a couple of more factors that contribute to Computer Vision Syndrome such as; poor viewing distances, poor sitting posture, low lighting, uncorrected vision problems, and a combination of these factors (AOA, 2020).
Since 50% of the people do not carry protective eye gear, such as anti-glare glasses or even sunglasses, they have the fear from the society of being judged and being labelled as attention seekers most especially in places like Kigali (Mwayi, 2014). This makes the problem severe since they can not stop the excessive exposure to the computer, and neither can you stop smartphone usage and therefore, you need to use eye protection gear.
In 2010, the estimated percentage of myopic people worldwide was 27%, and it is projected to increase to 52% or more by the end of 2050 as more jobs turn digital, and accessibility to smartphones and computers become cheap and affordable (Mehta & Wen, 2019). The numbers will have doubled and even go beyond the projection as technology gets more affordable over time. This is a one-sided situation because the number of people having access to technology will continue rising, and at the same time, the percentage of myopic people will be on the rise as well. Nevertheless, the number of people carrying protective eye gear, taking screen breaks and even monitoring the time they spend on computers and screens should be on the rise after reading this article. This blog contains useful information and recommendations on how to not to be a victim of Computer Vision Syndrome and by the time you finish reading this piece of writing, I challenge you to take a break from a screen, look outside, and drink a glass of water, and finally, resume your on-screen duties because you are now blinking 66% less than you should typically blink (Sindt, 2020).
Not Being A Victim.
Below are some of the tips —some of which you did not know— gathered from different experts that will absolutely help you in your eye care journey;
1. Exercise: This is the best remedy when it comes to taking proper care of your eyes. Exercises help in proper blood circulation and the removal of toxins from the eyes (AOA, 2020). Try this, it’s free and fun to do.
Location of the computer screen. Your screen should be slightly below the horizontal eye level (AOA, 2020).
2. Lighting: Remember, do not use your device in front of a bright window. This causes glare, which is what we do not want (AOA, 2020).
Anti-glare screens: Modern computers have a built-in anti-glare feature, lookup for that as part of the machine specification (Mayo Clinic, 2020).
3. Seating posture: You should be seated in a position that the arms are supported while typing. Ideally, this would be not so close or far away from the screen (Mayo Clinic, 2020).
4. Take breaks: For you not to have eye strains, you need to take breaks and rest your eyes after spending a long time on a computer. For every 20 minutes on your device, you have to at least take 20 seconds to allow your eyes to regain focus (Osborne, 2018).
5. Blinking: Take your time to blink, blink, and blink again to reduce the chances of having dry eyes while on a PC or mobile phone, so that you can keep your eyes moist (Sindt, 2020).
6. Diet: Most people know that food has adverse effects on our overall health. Vitamin C, such as tomatoes and citrus fruits, would naturally help to maintain and keep your eyes healthy. Vitamin A also plays a significant role in vision by maintaining a clear cornea —the outside covering of your eye (Meixner, 2018).
7. Wash your hands: You might not take this seriously, but we always have a lot of bacteria and germs on our hands, and we tend to rub the same hands in our eyes subconsciously, which is an easy path for bacteria to get into the eyes. This one is so easy to practice since COVID-19 has taught us too. When washing your hands because you want to stop the spread of COVID-19, you’re keeping bacteria off your eyes, why not clean your hands extra? (AOA, 2020)
8. Protective glasses: Lastly, the so-called attention-seeking tools (sunglasses and anti-glare glasses) are super necessary for situations where you have high or low amounts of light entering your eyes; when your eyes naturally fail to handle the incoming light, or you’re reading in a super dark place where you have to strain your eyes to read. Protective glasses are not only laboratory glasses. They can also be anti-blue light glasses used to protect your eyes from Computer Vision Syndrome (Sindt, 2020).
Do not ignore your eyes, they’re essential. Without them functioning properly, you probably would have not reached the conclusion of my piece of writing on ALU Global Focus. Do not remember to take care of your precious eyes when it’s too late, when you’re heading for surgery or when you can not read anymore. Taking care of those eyes, having a 20 second-break after 20 minutes on a computer or smartphone is not a lot of work to do and eating that carrot or drinking tomato juice would help more. These practices are so much better than losing your sight, right? And besides, you really do not need extra artificial eye support to recognize your true love from a distance.
Mehta, N., & Wen, A. (2019). Myopia: A Global Epidemic – Retina Today. Retrieved 3 December 2020, from https://retinatoday.com/articles/2019-sept/myopia-a-global-epidemic#:~:text=Myopia%20is%20the%20most%20common,it’s%20incidence%20is%20increasing%20
Meixner, M. (2018). The 9 Most Important Vitamins for Eye Health. Retrieved 3 December 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/eye-vitamins#TOC_TITLE_HDR_5
Osborne, C. (2018). Eye Exercises: Techniques, Tips, and More. Retrieved 2 December 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/health/eye-health/eye-exercises
Smith, S. (2015). Everyone Should Wear Sunglasses. Retrieved 3 December 2020, from https://www.ehstoday.com/ppe/eye-face-head/article/21917249/everyone-should-wear-sunglasses
Yanoga, F. (2019). Does blue light from electronic devices damage our eyes?. Retrieved 3 December 2020, from https://wexnermedical.osu.edu/blog/blue-light-and-vision#:~:text=One%20animal%20study%20showed%20blue,photosensitive%20cells%2C%20which%20are%20irreplaceable.&text=Damage%20to%20the%20retina%20can,lead%20to%20permanent%20vision%20loss.
AOA. (2020). Computer vision syndrome (Digital eye strain). Retrieved 3 December 2020, from https://www.aoa.org/healthy-eyes/eye-and-vision-conditions/computer-vision-syndrome?sso=y&ct=bf81612c45917bb421c2e881a3a62bea1446ee5ac204b67e09da466d62e580a3e775091588c246083e763edb8782a93a75955b53a96a60a6617bab69e3c9279e
Mayo Clinic. (2020). Eyestrain – Symptoms and causes. Retrieved 3 December 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/eyestrain/symptoms-causes/syc-20372397
Sindt, C. (2020). Computer vision syndrome. Retrieved 3 December 2020, from https://uihc.org/health-topics/computer-vision-syndrome