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COVID-19, screen time and your eyes

The ill effects of the increased exposure to digital screens, and how you can alleviate them.

Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic struck, many aspects of our lives have been shifted online. Be it for work, studies, socialising or play, the reliance on digital technology has risen at an unprecedented rate.

This has resulted in a number of problems, with one widely experienced negative effect being eye strain. “Before the pandemic, less than half of my patients see me for symptoms of excessive screen use — eye strain, teary eyes, and dry eyes. But now, a vast majority of them do so,” said Assoc Prof Marcus Ang, Senior Consultant at SNEC’s Corneal & External Eye Disease Department, and Co-Clinical Director of the Myopia Centre.

Patients who report these symptoms are normally aged 40 years and above, and most of them are working from home. The symptoms are more severe for those who are older.

Another group to be concerned about is the younger patients, among whom myopia has a high prevalence. “While it is debatable that excessive screen time directly causes myopia, it has been proven that the more time spent outdoors, the less likely a person is to develop myopia,” said Assoc Prof Ang.

Even as Singapore learns to live with COVID-19 and more people return to their workplaces and schools, technology will still play a big part in our lives. The key is not to completely eliminate the time spent looking at screens, but to better manage it. Read on to find out how you can do so.

Click here to check out other articles in SINGVISION Issue 2/2021.