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Importance of eye health during this lockdown and 5 ways to keep our eyes safe from screen fatigue

Hemanth Manay CEO & Chief Consultant Optometrist, S R Gopal Rao Opticians

The current situation does not allow for us to move out as frequently and as necessarily as we used to prior to the lockdown. It is most likely going to continue being like this for a few months given the current circumstance. Moreover, at present, all opticians in the city are temporarily closed and you can only expect to visit your optometrist or ophthalmologist post this period. Most people would want to avoid visiting the hospitals too at this time unless absolutely needed. Staying at home is the best solution to contain the spread of the virus. As such taking care of your eyes and your eyewear is necessary. We most often tend to neglect that which is easily available and not expensive; eyewear has become one of those products over the last few years. A lot of people also take sight for granted, as such eye health is often abused. However, taking proper care of your eyes and eyewear at this time will help you avoid any uncomfortable and unnecessary situations, especially when most people are now working from home. Here’s what you need to know and do:

Primarily avoid Contact Lenses (CL’s) and wear Spectacles. But if you are a Contact Lens wearer, do the following:

  1. Please maintain the hygiene of your lenses by disinfecting it and the container in which it is kept every day. Use water and soap to clean the container and the Lens cleaning solution to disinfect the Lenses

  2. Always store your CL’s in the container provided with sufficient lens solution

  3. Wash your hands with soap and water thoroughly before wearing and taking them off, even if you haven’t stepped out of the home.

  4. Avoid touching or rubbing your eyes.

  5. Use the Lenses only for the duration specified by the Optometrist and not longer.

  6. Do not sleep or take short naps with your Contact Lenses on (very important)

  7. If you have a common cold or dust allergy, avoid Contact Lenses since it may irritate the eyes.

These steps will help avoid the cause of any damage, infections, pains or discomfort caused to the eye for Contact Lens wearers. If you use Spectacles as an alternative, then this would be the best time to use only your eyeglasses and not Contact Lenses. Eyeglasses will avoid a lot of unnecessary discomforts caused when working from home. You tend to touch your eyes lesser when wearing spectacles and it also acts as personal protective equipment. Another, for instance, is when one takes a short nap in between computer time, doing this with your Contact Lenses on is definitely not recommended.

Studies show that the normal blink rate is anywhere between 10-15 times per minute. This is reduced to half when using digital devices, especially when working on the computer. Also, computer use tends to cause more incomplete blinks, so the tear film is not spread across the entire cornea. This leads to screen fatigue or what Optometrists call digital eye strain.

How does one recognise screen fatigue or digital eye strain? The symptoms are as follows: eye fatigue and discomfort, dry eyes, headaches, blurred vision, neck and shoulder pain, eye twitching and red eyes (generally appears because of dryness and eye fatigue).

5 steps to help you recover from or avoid digital eye strain is as follows:

  1. Use proper lighting, avoid harsh light or bright light over your work area

  2. Minimise glare on computer screens by checking where the reflection is coming from in your surroundings and blocking it. Adjust your computer display setting to match the brightness of the light in your surroundings, change the text size and contrast to what you feel is comfortable and adjust the colour temperature to reduce the harmful blue light emitted from your device.

  3. Maintain proper posture; hands in line with your shoulders while using the keyboard and screen in line with your eyes. This will reduce or remove the pain caused in your shoulders and neck. Take at least one 10-minute break every hour.

  4. Consciously try to blink more often and if dry eyes persist call your Optometrist to ch

eck on easily available lubricants that will assist you with the same. Exercise your eyes by following the 20-20-20 rule which implies for every 20 minutes take a break from your device for 20 secs by directing your gaze 20 feet away from you. If you can’t do this then blink 10 times by closing your eyes like you would when you fall asleep. Do this every 20-30 minutes.

  1. Use eyeglasses with protective coatings and lens designs which will help reduce the strain on the eyes and will also cut out the entry of harmful blue light. Consult your Optician for these solutions.

If you have broken your Spectacle Lenses and need a Replacement or have run out of Contact lenses and have no Lens Cleaning Solution, then reach out to us and we will sort you out. Stay home, stay safe.


Written by Hemanth Manay, CEO & Chief Consultant Optometrist at S.R.Gopal Rao Opticians and published in the Pharma Times on 30th April 2020, during the Covid-19 Pandemic Lockdown in Bengaluru, Karnataka.

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