Causes, symptoms and practical tips on how to avoid eye strain

Eye strain: Are you constantly glued to your phone, sacrificing real conversations for social media scrolling? You might be suffering from mobile phone addiction. Learn how excessive screen time can harm your health and discover practical tips to protect your eyes from the strain.

Do you feel anxious when you can’t check your phone for more than a few minutes? Do you spend more time scrolling through social media than talking to real people? Do you sleep with your phone under your pillow or next to your bed? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might be suffering from addiction to mobile phones. This is a serious condition that affects millions of people around the world and can have negative consequences for your health, relationships and productivity. This attachment to the screen may constantly abuse your eyes and worsen the ocular symptoms over time. Consider this a heads-up.

Also read | How to keep your eyes healthy: Add carrots, amla and green tea to your diet plan to improve eyesight

Computer vision syndrome, also called digital eye strain, involves a group of ocular and non-ocular symptoms in people who are glued to their screens (mobiles, laptops, tablets, etc.). Continuous exposure to digital displays can result in symptoms like tearing, blurred vision, redness in the eyes, and tired eyes. Non-ocular manifestations include headache, back pain, neck pain and general fatigue.

Eye experts recommend that we remain mindful of our screen time because of the strain it can impose on our eyes. Therefore, to protect ocular health, it is essential that we take timely precautions and shield ourselves from the dangers.

Blink it: The moisture layer on the eye’s front surface may get dry due to prolonged screen time. A smooth and even tear film can prevent vision from getting compromised. This can be corrected by voluntarily blinking often. When using a digital display, one must keep blinking to avoid dryness and redness of the ocular region.

Improper lighting: The absence of adequate lighting can interfere with vision by increasing strain on the eyes. This can further lead to headaches. Sitting in an appropriately lit area, preferably natural lighting, is advisable. Sitting near a window or keeping the tube lights on can help reduce distress to the ocular surface.

Change the setting: Consider changing the brightness and contrast settings of the gadgets. Font size can also be tweaked if it becomes too inconvenient.

20/20/20: No, that’s not a date, it’s a thumb rule of sorts. It’s an easy yet potent prescription for ocular respite; if you look at the screen for 20 minutes, you must gaze at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. The longer you look away from the digital display, the better. This will prevent you from staring at gadgets for too long and give those ocular muscles the much-needed rest.

Take breaks: According to a research article on PubMed Central, digital eye strain is more rampant in people with continuous screen hours than those who take breaks between. This is attributed to accommodation lag on prolonged use of gadgets.

Anti-reflecting coating:  Using an anti-glare matte screen instead of a glass-covered LCD is preferable. The anti-reflecting coating on glasses can help the eyes adjust quickly to the digital device.

Digital detox: A digital detox once in a while is healthy for more reasons than one. Keeping all forms of gadgets away for a day, once a fortnight, or once a month can help the eyes relax. It also provides an opportunity to look beyond social media and focus on things that are not virtual.

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