I use the computer extensively. Does computer radiation exist? Should I be worried about blue light?
On the topic of radiation, studies related to sun exposure in excess carries a risk of damage to the lens due to the ultraviolet light emitted, causing cataracts and change to the skin around the eyes especially the eye lids. Fair-skinned people should be careful with long-term sun exposure as they have less pigment called melanin, which acts as a protective agent from UV light. If you see a lump around the eye lids or on the eye lid which is pearly white or round then you should an ophthalmologist quickly, who can refer you to an oculoplastic ophthalmologist to help.
With the increased use of computer screens, there is a growing fear that blue light emitted from these electronic devices can cause dryness of the eyes, sleep disturbances and eyestrain. This is what can be referred to as digital eyestrain.
Blue light glasses representatives have claimed that this can damage the central part of the retina called the macula. At present there is no evidence of this.
Radiation from a computer has never been shown to cause eye problems. The radiation protection programe at Massachussets Institute of Technology summarises current research on computer monitors radiation by saying that “there are no data to suggest a health risk from exposure to electromagnetic fields associated with the use of monitors.”
Long hours staring at digital screens can cause eyestrain, and decreased blinking associated with computer use can cause dry eyes.
Steps to protect your eyes from strain if you work with computer devices all day:
✱ You should sit about at an arm’s length from the computer screen. Position the screen so you are viewing it slightly downward
✱ A matte screen filter can reduce the glare
✱ Take regular breaks using the “20-20-20” rule: every 20 minutes, shift your eyes to look at an object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds
✱ When your eyes feel dry, use artificial tears to refresh them
✱ Adjust your room lighting and try increasing the contrast on your screen to reduce eyestrain
✱ If you wear contact lenses, give your eyes a break by wearing your glasses.
Many eye symptoms caused by computer use are only temporary and will lessen after you stop using the computer.
Getting regular comprehensive eye exams from an ophthalmologist is critical to diagnosing any potential eye disease in its early stages.
Dr Irfan Khan is consultant ophthalmologist at Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai