The pandemic promoted the use of electronic devices, and this increase in turn produced an increase in some of the eye conditions derived from excessive use of these tools.
On World Sight Day, which is celebrated today, concern about the effect of excessive use of screens is in the foreground, according to specialists.
Among the most common disorders caused by excessive use of screens is the so-called dry eye, an increasingly common pathology that today affects one in three over 40 years.
As highlighted by Rogelio Ribes Escudero, ophthalmologist, cornea and ocular surface specialist, Head of the cornea transplant team at the German Hospital, if before the pandemic we spent more than 7 hours a day in front of the cell phone, television, computer or tablet, and we had stopped interacting directly with others to do so virtually, this trend increased with the virus and is expected to continue when the pandemic is behind us.
The concern has to do with the effects that excessive use of this equipment can cause on the eyes.
These effects, according to experts, can be divided into two: those that act on tears and the ocular surface and those that are a consequence of the light emitted by the devices.
Regarding the ocular surface, it must be taken into account that a person blinks between 10-15 times per minute. When performing an activity where the eye is fixed closely, the blinks decrease by half, therefore, the diffusion of the tear on the ocular surface decreases since the eyelids are the windshields of the eyes. In these cases, tear production also decreases, which is why a dry eye is generated, says Ribes Escudero.
Dry eye is an increasingly common pathology, affecting one in 3 individuals over 40 years of age.
Current treatments are aimed at increasing the quality and quantity of tears.
Excessive use of screens and devices is associated with different disorders
For this, multiple therapies are carried out, from the use of drops that increase the synthesis of tears or procedures that unblock the glands that produce them, such as microexfoliation of the edge of the eyelid, to pulsed light.
As for blue light – known as high energy visible – it can induce changes in the eye. It is not yet clear whether the blue light emitted by electronic devices is strong enough to cause retinal damage.
What is known is that it can decrease the synthesis of melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone. Therefore, it is recommended not to use them 2-3 hours before sleeping.
On the other hand, the use of these devices generates an effort on the ciliary muscle, which is in charge of focusing closely. As it contracts, it increases the magnification diopters of the lens, a process known as accommodation. The consequence is that, after so long with close activities, a spasm and contracture of this muscle is generated, which promotes temporary blurred vision and headaches in young people. It is like training the same muscle for 8 to 10 hours a day, at some point it will cramp.
For this reason, the American Academy of Ophthalmology suggests adhering to the “20-20-20” rule, that is, resting for 20 seconds every 20 minutes and seeing something that is more than 20 feet away.
In this framework, and when World Sight Day is commemorated today, specialists recommended carrying out periodic comprehensive ophthalmological examinations that allow diagnosing pathologies that can evolve without symptoms such as glaucoma or retinal conditions, according to the Argentine Chamber of Ophthalmological Medicine. (Cameof).