With an increasing number of people, especially older children and teenagers who spend too much time on their smarts phones and computers, it is essential to understand that these devices are doing more damage than previously suspected, specifically to the eyes, says Dr Sandeep Mark Thirumalai, specialist paediatric ophthalmologist, NMC Specialty Hospital, Abu Dhabi.

‘Children who spend more time on their phones are increasingly showing symptoms of dry-eye. When those children went without phones for a month, their symptoms were significantly reduced.’

Dry eyes and computer vision syndrome are the common problems of the technology usage. ‘Dry eye syndrome, also known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca, is the condition of having dry eyes. Other associated symptoms include irritation, redness, discharge, and easily fatigued eyes. Blurred vision may also occur. The symptoms can range from mild and occasional to severe and continuous. People who spend two or more continuous hours in front of the screen are at a greater risk of developing a temporary condition called digital eyestrain or computer vision syndrome.

‘Dry eye occurs more frequently in women 
than in men.’

Preventive measures:

✱ Adjust the contrast and brightness such that your eyes are not strained. Tilt screen to avoid glare.

✱ Maintain a proper distance from the screen. Look away from the screen intermittently.

✱ Blink - often blinking (and for more than a second) keeps your eyes moist and reduces dryness and irritation. We tend to blink about a third less than we usually would when we stare lovingly at the smartphone screens, which starves our poor peepers of protective tears. Keep your eyes wet by blinking about ten times every 20 minutes.

✱ Minimise glare. Unless you have a smartphone equipped with anti-glare or use a matte screen protector film, you are probably coping with a fair amount of annoying reflective glare.