Staying home is one of the most important ways we can contain the coronavirus. But experts warn that this directive has triggered an alarming increase in the use of digital devices and screen time for both work and recreation, leading to eye strain and other ocular complications.
Some of the symptoms of digital eye strain include sore, itchy eyes, dry eyes or blurred vision, headaches, increased sensitivity to light, and difficulty concentrating, according to the Mayo Clinic.
"During this time of social distancing and stay-at-home orders, it is important for us as eye health physicians to keep the big picture in mind," said Jonathan Andrews, OD, of the Optometric Associates in New Holland, Pennsylvania, according to online medical journal Healio. "The much-needed rest and relaxation that this pandemic is forcing upon all of us could easily be taken away by nonhygienic digital device practices."
Andrews says that sitting at home and watching the blue and violet light emitted from these devices can disrupt normal circadian rhythm cycles.
"It is important to refrain from using digital devices within two hours of bedtime," he said. "Doing this enables our bodies to secrete the normal levels of melatonin need to ensure sound sleep."
Dr. Jason Brinton, a St. Louis-based ophthalmologist and founder of Brinton Vision, offers these tips to Newsmax readers to prevent digital eye strain:
- Turn off the bedroom fans at night. Fans can significantly increase dry eyes.
- Take fish oil or flax seed oil supplements, but consult with your primary care physician in case you are taking any medication that may be affected by these supplements.
- Use artificial tears several times a day to keep your eyes lubricated.
- Don't wear your contact lenses if you anticipate a heavy day on the computer. "I also don't recommend wearing contact lenses during a viral pandemic, as you are more likely to touch your face," adds Brinton.
- Position your monitor below eye level and adjust surrounding lights and window shades to prevent glare on your screen.
- Increase the font of the text on your computer to improve readability.
- Follow the 20-20-20 rule. "For every 20 minutes of screen time, take at least a 20 second break and look 20 feet or more off into the distance," says the expert. "This can relax your eyes and reset your blink rate, among other benefits."
For more information, visit BrintonVision.com.
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