Eye Health: Screen Time During The Pandemic
Updated: Apr 17, 2021
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The myth is true—screen time has many effects on our eyesight. During this pandemic, everyone is using screens more often, whether it be for work, school or anything in between, so we must pay careful attention to our eye health. Dry eye disease is a condition where not enough tears are produced to lubricate the eyes. It has many symptoms, including stringy mucus in or around the eyes, sensitivity to light, and blurred vision. One of the causes of this is staring at a screen for a long period of time. During the pandemic, people are staring at computers, their televisions, and phone screens more often than usual.
Dr. Craig See and Dr. Preeya K. Gupta, both cornea specialists, have said that they have treated people whose dry eyes have become worse by staring at screens without blinking for long periods of time. At the moment, there is not any data that shows that this has become worse from the pandemic, but Gupta added that our “digital lifestyle” has a significant role in the development of dry eye. As a result, she says that if we are spending too much time on our screens, we should take a break, to preserve the health of our eyes.
Despite this, Gupta states that it’s hard to consider eye health an immediate problem: “It’s obvious when I can’t bend my finger that, ‘Maybe something [is] broken.’ It’s not an obvious association with dry eye disease, and that makes it even tougher for patients to prioritize eye health.” Gupta adds that people usually do not seek medical attention specifically for dry eyes. Additionally, Mr. See says that most dry eye cases are not threatening to vision, and that in most cases, people are okay, but it is important to pay attention to their eye health.
Melanie Yarger, a 42-year-old woman who was diagnosed with dry eye, shares her story and advice: “When I first heard ‘dry eye,’ it sounded really simple to me, but understanding how complex it is and how it does impact your eye and also affects your life, it really does make a vast impact on your whole state of living,” she said. “You really have to take care of your eyes. You only have one pair of them, you don’t want to miss out on life’s moments.”
It is important to take care of one's eyes, and especially when it comes to dry eyes, one should be careful of their screen time during this pandemic.