How do I maintain a healthy vision? This question is common these days. Covid has accelerated our digital shift for anything and everything we do. This digital shift has no doubt put a strain on our eyes.
Shifting entirely to screens has its disadvantages. One of these is we are continuously focussing on near things, be it the computer or the phone screen. We don’t look at things. Most of our patients complain about far vision only when they can’t read the subtitles of something they are watching on Netflix or when they can’t see the airport signs when travelling.
This constant near focus leads to eye strain, and thus it is essential to take breaks. A system that one can follow is the 20-20-20 rule. Here, every 20 minutes, one should look 20 feet away for about 20 seconds. These breaks will do a few things for you. First, you will end up looking far, and the muscles responsible for near focusing get a break. You will also stop staring at the computer screen, which tends to be a little more bright than simply looking out into the open.
Another advantage of the 20-20-20 rule is that you tend to blink a little more often when you look away. We tend to stare at digital devices while working on them. This staring means our blink rate reduces drastically. When this happens over prolonged periods, one tends to develop dry eyes. One may experience heaviness, redness, and itching; One may also complain of a feeling of not having slept well despite knowing that they have. Individuals who have dryness may also complain of discomfort in the morning when waking up.
While dryness may appear as a minor eye issue which is very common, sometimes severe dryness can lead to blurred vision and even redness. Less commonly, dryness can even lead to an eye infection, leading to vision loss.
Pro Tip: Another thing that can help you is ice compresses. Take some ice cubes and wrap them in a piece of cloth. Place this over your eyes for a few minutes every day. It will give you some relief if you are experiencing symptoms of dryness.
Pro Tip: When using a computer, make sure the top edge of the screen is not higher than your eye level. This height adjustment will reduce the dryness that may happen in your eyes.
Many individuals have a small eye number in their glasses and can manage quite comfortably without glasses when using the computer or phone. However, it’s essential to keep in mind that when you spend an increasing number of hours on digital screens, not wearing this small number can cause eye strain.
If you have a small number and don’t wear your glasses, you strain your eyes to see clearly. Now, if you have to keep pushing your eyes for the whole day, it’s like lifting a lightweight for the entire day. Finally, this small weight starts feeling heavy, and your arm may ache. Similarly, not wearing your glasses can lead to eye strain by the end of the day.
More importantly, individuals over 40 years of age may have reading glasses. Some individuals may choose to use the computer without wearing their glasses. While most of the time it’s OK, sometimes this too leads to significant eye strain.
It is thus essential to wear your prescription glasses all the time while working on the phone or computer.
There has also been significant discussion of blue-light-blocking glasses. One thing is for sure these glasses cause no harm. The question is, do they benefit us? We don’t think blue light glasses add much value to children who may spend 3-5 hours on the screen, especially the younger kids. For older children and adults, yes, blue-light-blocking glasses may reduce some amount of digital eye strain.
For those into sports, mainly contact sports like football, you may consider wearing glasses with polycarbonate lenses. These lenses don’t break easily.
Reducing screen time is critical, especially for children. However, that does not mean that adults can control time spent on Instagram, FB, and so on. It’s never-ending and many times beyond our control. But one should be aware of the amount of time spent on these channels.
Due to covid, our screen times have gone through the roof, and thus we should be conscious of how much time we are spending on the screen when we do not do such important work.
Reducing screen time is more critical for children. Children up to 12-15 years of age are at risk of getting an eye number. One factor that increases this risk is the amount of near work that the children do. The closer the near work, the higher the risk of getting an eye number.
Pro Tip: Since lockdown in March 2020, we started seeing patients from May. The numbers gradually increased as time went by. We saw a significant jump in the number of children whose eye powers jumped or got glasses for the first time. So, increased screen time does increase the risk of eye power significantly.
I have grouped these three because they also help with general well-being and general health. Eye doctors don’t talk about these things; however, they are essential even for eye health.
Sleep is the most underrated activity that we perform. So many of us believe that sleep is a waste of time, and nothing can be far from the truth. It is during sleep that all the repair work in the body happens. Your brain repair work too. During sleep, short-term memory moves to long-term memory, and it is during sleep, your muscles rebuild after a good workout. During sleep, your eyes are closed and stay wet, and get rest. One must aim for 8 hours of sleep.
Many are aware of the importance of hydration. Unfortunately, we are drinking less water than we should. Apart from being beneficial to the eyes, hydration helps you eat less. I mention this because so many people I know are looking to lose weight all the time but don’t drink enough water. Hydration also helps keep all the body systems working usually.
Exercise is another essential activity that we must do every other day, if not every day. Our lifestyles, especially post covid have become sedentary, and this is just very unhealthy. When we step out of our houses to run or cycle, we tend to look far for prolonged periods. This is good for the eyes. Regular exercise also keeps us mentally alert and increases blood circulation and the cardiovascular ability of the body.
So, what happens in a regular eye exam? We first check how clear or blurry your vision is. If you have blurry vision, then we look for eye power. Sometimes by just changing glasses, you may start seeing clearly again. We then examine the front part of the eye and look for corneal problems or dryness. We can also know the status of your cataract. After that, we check your eye pressure. Raised eye pressure can lead to what is known as glaucoma.
Post this, we put some eye drops in the eyes and dilate your pupils. We then can perform a dilated eye exam where we examine the retina and optic nerve. People with diabetes and hypertensive patients can develop certain eye conditions. Mainly retinal problems like diabetic retinopathy may need lasers or eye injections and sometimes even eye surgeries. Elderly patients can even have something known as Age-related-macular-degeneration. Also known as ARMD, this condition is treated by giving eye injections.
What has been just described is a comprehensive eye exam, and our eye doctor will be able to get an idea of your overall eye health. This complete eye exam should be an annual eye exam.
These are some healthy eye care habits that you can implement for yourselves in the coming days.
Finding a reliable eye care clinic or facility may be your top priority as you try to manage your eyesight and ocular health. However, the search may not always be comfortable. Fortunately, Eye Solutions Mumbai is a friendly neighbourhood eye care clinic that you can trust for all your eye care concerns. From a quick checkup to comprehensive treatment, we’ll have your back.
To know more or book an appointment, feel free to call us.