Follow the 20-20-20 screen rule

From watching streaming shows to video conferences with colleagues and long, heart-to-heart video calls with friends and family, connecting over screens is the new normal.

But how safe is it for your eyes?

As we continue social distancing and stay indoors to stem the spread of the coronavirus, our distance from screens is decreasing exponentially as digital is the only way to continue working from home.

"Digital devices - phone, laptop, smart TV and tablet - have become an integral part of everyone's life, from professionals to students and even homemakers," said Mr Ramesh Pillai, Titan Eyeplus' senior corporate optometrist.

"And with this increase in screen time becoming inevitable, taking good care of your eyes is paramount."

Studies have shown that longer hours of indoor activity, which includes reading, writing and playing video games, can lead to short-sightedness or myopia - especially in children.

"Excessive exposure to a screen leads to eye strain because our eyes are working overtime," said Mr Pillai.

"It can lead to dryness because we tend to blink less while we are staring at the screen, and it can also cause a burning sensation.

"Our eyes are also exposed to harmful HEV (High Energy Visible) light from the digital screens which causes strain.

"This is also considered one of the reasons for cataract formation and ARMD (Age Related Macular Degeneration)."

He suggests these precautions to protect your eyes:

Take breaks

Resting your eyes helps keep them moist. Use the 20-20-20 rule by taking a 20-second screen break every 20 minutes to look at objects 20 feet away from you.

Cut reflection

Keep monitors away from windows and never face a window when using a computer.

Consider using anti-reflection lenses with a blue coating if you wear spectacles or even otherwise.

LED devices emit harmful blue light which can cause eye strain.

The blue coating helps block the harmful blue violet light and allows the essential blue turquoise light needed to maintain the sleep-wake cycle.

Think bigger

Increase font size when reading on-screen so that devices don't need to be too close to your eyes and you don't have to squint.

Stay clean

A clean screen boosts visibility. Wipe your screen at least once a day.

Set screens Adjust brightness, resolution and contrast for better clarity and comfort. Where possible, avoid using devices in bright sunlight.

Blink frequently

Staring at a screen makes us blink less often, which dries the eyes. Blinking moistens the eyes, reducing dryness and irritation.

Use lubricating drops to keep your eyes moist, especially if you wear contact lenses.

Eat healthy

Omega 3 oils naturally lubricate the eyes. These are found in flax seed oil and fish.

You can also take them as supplements.

Set a time limit

It is better to keep away digital devices from children below the age of two because their eyes are in the formative stages.

Children two to five years old should not be allowed more than one hour of screen time a day.

Children more than five years old should not be allowed to play games and have fun on screen for more than two hours a day.

Adults whose work demands looking at screens for long hours should follow the 20-20-20 rule.

Say adieu

One must stop using the digital devices at least one hour before going to bed to get a good night's sleep.

Indo-Asian News Service


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