Over the last 18 months, the Optometrists at World of Vision have seen an increase in nearsightedness among our patients due to increased digital device usage.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many people to work from home. This meant increased screen time and less time driving and other activities away from our screens. These activities and driving from home to work and back forced us to take the necessary breaks from our screens, focusing on long-distance instead of continuous near focus on our screens.

Blue Light is Everywhere
During the Covid -19 worldwide pandemic, our digital world has expanded more than ever. From work to school to spare time, we are all using some sort of digital device for long hours every day and we are bombarded by blue light from these man-made sources.

Research suggests that this cumulative and constant exposure to blue light can damage our eyes, specifically the retina cells. There is expected to be an increase in the number of patients at risk for macular degeneration in the coming decades.

SYMPTOMS

  • Eye Strain
    Because your eyes are working extra hard to cope with the blue light, you begin to experience eye strain. Over sustained periods, the exposure can contribute to long-term vision issues such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
  • Headaches/ Migraines
    Headache is a common symptom that is caused by too much stress on the eyes. Blue light emissions from digital screens increase the stress on your eyes. If you already suffer from light sensitivity, exposure to blue light can trigger migraines.
  • Blurry Vision
    Whether it is a school paper, work spreadsheet, or detailed graphic design project you are working on, it is easy to lose track of time as you are focused to get the work done. However, not giving your eyes a proper break from screen time can lead to blurry vision as our natural eye’s filters are not fit for blocking blue light.

Apart from the effects of Blue light on the eyes, prolonged near focusing can initiate, increase or cause pseudo-myopia (Nearsightedness) or fixed myopia. Nearsightedness means your distance vision is reduced and you are struggling to see objects at a distance clearly.

Pseudo-myopia (near-induced transient myopia) is transient and not real, in that it would just go away if you stopped the excessive close-up focus. Fixed myopia usually has a hereditary component. Prolonged near work can initiate or increase fixed myopia earlier than it would have developed/increase without the sustained exposure.

  • Dry Eyes
    Another common symptom associated with prolonged exposure to blue light screens is dry eyes. With a prolonged concentration on a screen, we tend to blink less frequently, causing scratchy, red teary eyes.
  • Inability to Focus
    Due to eye strain, chronic headaches, dry eyes, and sustained concentration, it makes it more difficult to stay focused while working on your computer or phone for long periods of time. You have deadlines to meet, and we get that, but it’s also important to keep your body in check in order to stay focused.
  • Disrupts Sleep Pattern
    A common habit before bed is checking emails or catching up on social media. However, at night, blue light disrupts our circadian rhythm, the natural release of hormones (melatonin). The blue light tricks our brain into believing that it is daytime, which makes falling asleep more difficult and lowers our sleep quality. Circadian disruption produces serious downstream effects including an increase in obesity and depression.

HOW DO I PROTECT MY EYES?

  • Have your eyes tested to detect any form of eyestrain.
  • Use spectacles with specialised blue control anti-reflective properties. At World of Vision Optometrists, you can have Crizal Prevencia anti-reflective coating on your new prescribed spectacles or Plano over-the-counter ready-made blue control glasses.
  • Specialized myopia control spectacle lenses can be prescribed by your Optometrist to endeavor to reduce the rapid increase of myopia or pseudo-myopia.
  • Use lubricant eye drops to keep your eyes moist, your Optometrist at World of Vision will advise you on which eye drops are most suitable to you.
  • Take frequent breaks from your screen, even if it’s only looking away from your screen at a distant object (2m or further) for a couple of seconds. This gives your accommodation system a chance to relax and break the pattern of focusing.
  • Take breaks outdoors, stimulate your distance vision.
  • Refrain from using your digital device at least 2 hours before bedtime.

World of Vision Optometrists belongs to Essilor’s select Expert group of Optometrists, allowing us access to their technologically advanced products, including Crizal Prevencia lenses, Myopialux, and Eyezen lenses, to help decrease the effects of increased digital device usage.

Book an appointment today for expert advice on all your eye and visual concerns. Call 012 653 2288 or email centurion@worldofvision.co.za.