World Sight Day: World Sight Day this year is being observed on Thursday, October 13. It is an annual global event meant to draw attention to blindness and vision impairment. Here we discuss the impact of exposure to increased screen time on our eyes and related issues.Also Read – Twitter Introduces New Feature, Makes It Easy For The Visually Impaired To Read Images
We spend a lot of time staring at our phones, but can phone screens damage our sight? India is one of the top three countries with the highest number of smartphone users, and one where over 10 million people suffer from retinal diseases. Overuse of electronic gadgets like smartphones, computers, and laptops is a major reason behind the increasing burden of eye diseases in India. Also Read – Excessive Screen Time, Blue Light From Gadgets Linked To Obesity, Psychological Problems, Early Aging: Study
The most important tip for good retinal health is getting regular eye check-ups from an optometrist or ophthalmologist, it can help prevent diseases or detect conditions at early stages to help manage the disease in time with the right treatment and prevent vision loss. Diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic retinopathy (DR) can lead to significant vision loss or impairment if not managed accurately and at the right time. Also Read – 7 Easy Ways to Protect Your Eyes During Summers
Dr Ajay Dudani, CEO Vitreoretinal Surgeon, Mumbai Retina Centre says, “In my clinical observation, 60% of people aged 60 and older experience some form of cataract, which is age-related and results in gradual vision loss. 40% of these patients suffer from more severe cases, with visual impairments. However, even if cataract patients come during the advanced stages of the disease, they can recover their full vision through surgery.
“On the other hand, glaucoma and retinal diseases can lead to irreversible outcomes, including blindness, if the diseases go untreated. Diabetic retinopathy, for instance, needs to be managed effectively and in a timely manner. As years lived with diabetes rise, this risk increases, amounting to a 90% risk of eye disease for those experiencing diabetes for 20 years. 15 to 20% of my patients also have glaucoma, which can lead to optic nerve damage and progress rapidly if individuals don’t turn up for follow-ups.
“However, today, we are working towards raising awareness and scaling technology solutions to simplify the screening process. There are a number of advanced treatment options available to control the condition, alongside regular monitoring, including eye drops, innovative medication, laser, or even surgery. Knowledge of and adherence to such treatment options, for glaucoma and other eye diseases, is vital to promote optimal eye care.”
Eye-related problems due to excessive screen time
Staring at the screen for long hours prevents us from blinking as frequently as we should. This exposes the film of tears protecting the surface of the eyes and causes dryness and irritation.
Asthenopia, ocular fatigue, or eye fatigue is a condition where the eyes are tired from intense use. It is a common effect of staring at a computer screen or smartphone for long periods and can go away with rest.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
AMD affects the central vision and is quite common in aged people. Since heavy exposure to blue light from the screen damages the retina, it triggers an early onset of AMD and eventually loss of vision. However, by detecting AMD early on, you can seek effective treatment for the condition and avoid the preventable consequence of vision loss.
Myopia or near sightedness is a condition where distant objects are difficult to see or appear blurry, while objects near you are clear. Staying indoors and staring at the screen for long periods make your eyes focus only on objects kept at less than arm’s length, thus making you vulnerable to near sightedness.
Dry eyes, difficulty focusing, and other eye-related problems due to excessive screen time are a result of the burden put on the eye muscles.
Here are a few ways to keep your eyes in check:
- Blinking and using hydrating eye drops can prevent dry eyes
- Adjust overhead lighting to minimise screen glare and maintain at least an arm’s length from computer screens
- Increase the size of screen content to reduce strain and emphasise on taking breaks every 30-40 minutes
This year, 13 October marks World Sight Day and is aimed to raise awareness and encourage individuals to focus attention on the importance of eye health. Taking proper preventive measures, regular eye check-ups, and timely treatment can be helpful. Do not forget to keep a note of your screen time and moreover maintain a healthy and active lifestyle to keep your eyes and body healthy.