Eye Stress – Part 2

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Dr. S.S. Gill Resident Consultant Ophthalmologist

In our continuing series on Eye Health, Consultant Ophthalmologist Dr. S.S. Gill talks to us about Eye Stress.

People who are addicted to using their smartphones may be having fun with playing games or surfing the internet, but do not realise that their eyes are stressed by the hours of staring that they do. Our eyes are in actual fact biologically not designed to stare at a computer screen all day long. If we were out “hunting” and “gathering” as we were made out to be, our eyes would get their natural break from intensive close-range staring that many people do in today’s modern age.

All the staring at computers and smartphones for long hours each time means “we are getting our eyes to do something they were not meant to do”! Unfortunately for our eyes, we do live in a world surrounded by gadgets that demand this kind of staring activity. We may be switching from using our smartphone to using the computer, and then to reading an e-book on our iPad, placing the same stressful demands on our eyes. The long hours spent using these gadgets do not help as well.

Interestingly, both men and women suffer from eye strain although women are reporting more eye and vision problems associated with their screen time than men. This is possibly because women are more prone to dry eyes than men.

It is not really known why women experience the dry-eye syndrome more than men do, but it has been speculated that hormones do play a part in tear production. The hormonal changes that occur in peri-menopausal (just around the time when menopause begins) and of course menopause itself can explain why older women are more susceptible to dry eyes, which is contributing factor towards eye strain.

Dry air in an air-conditioned environment also adds to symptoms of eye strain and fatigue. If you work in a place where the air-conditioning is extra efficient, for example in a deli or supermarket, or in a corporate office environment, the symptoms and discomfort may worsen if you suffer from dry eyes.

This is why some women develop bloodshot eyes after spending some time in a supermarket and may even look like they have had a few shots of alcohol!

It is good to remember that our eyes are in their most relaxed state when looking into the distance. This is where the 20-20-20 rule is helpful when practised. For every 20 minutes of doing concentrated near-work, look 20 feet into distance for at least 20 seconds. This deliberate activity relaxes the ciliary muscles used for near accommodation, thus reducing eye stress.

Remember to consciously take quick and regular breaks to relax your eyes whenever you are going to be working long hours on concentrated near-work. You can also shut your eyes for about 20 seconds every now and again (that is if your boss allows you!)

For more information on Eye Health, contact Gill Eye Specialist Centre at 05-5455582, email: gilleyecentre@dr.com or visit www.fatimah.com.my.