Many of us, having switched to home office, began to spend more time in front of screens and monitors. Although the overall working hours did not change, the shifted schedules and the opportunity to sit with the project a little longer ("I still save time on the road") led to the fact that the eyes became more tired. On this occasion, they decided to tell why vision deteriorates in general, dispel several popular myths and figure out, together with doctors, how to protect it.
text: Marina Levicheva
How the pandemic affected vision
Experts report that during the pandemic, they have more patients. Some are tired of fogging their glasses when wearing masks and want to switch to lenses, others are afraid of the possible transmission of the virus when installing contact lenses and, conversely, want glasses to be prescribed for them. But the main problem remains the "dry eye" syndrome, which is often called "office" or "monitor".
When we look at a computer screen or read, the frequency of blinking movements decreases (up to four times per minute at a rate of eighteen), the tear film is not renewed in time, and the cornea is not sufficiently moisturized. If this happens every day, unpleasant symptoms appear: redness, dryness, burning, or gritty eyes.
“Being in the same position for a long time, where the computer and the phone, in fact, became the only sources of communication with the outside world - this is how we spent almost the entire last year. The eyes, as the most delicate organ, reacted first. Many patients began to complain of periodic pain in the eyes, blurred vision, pain when leaving the room to the street. All these are the consequences of constant unblinking browsing of Internet pages, social networks, reading e-books, "says Armine Gevorkyan, ophthalmologist at Medicina JSC (Academician Roitberg's clinic), a member of the Russian Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons (RSCRS) and the European Society of Cataract and refractive surgeons (ESCRS).
“Vision is also affected by fresh air and the ability of the eyes to focus on objects at different distances - near and far. When working from home, most of us spend little time outdoors and look at objects up close for a long time. Looking into the distance, giving rest to the eyes, is not always possible - after all, many people cannot see the horizon line from the window,”adds Professor Erika Eskina, head of the Sfera ophthalmological clinic.
As for trends, while there is little research on the topic, scientists think that myopia could potentially worsen during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. And not only in adults. One study of 123,535 Chinese children followed for five years found that myopia became more common among them in 2020.
“For most of us, the house is not suitable for work: insufficient illumination of the workplace, uncomfortable chairs, glare on the monitor cannot but affect the health of the eyes,” continues Erika Eskina. “In general, the working day from home turns out to be more extended in time than when working from the office.” From non-obvious reasons for reduced vision - malnutrition when switching to a home regime, which, in turn, can lead to a deterioration in the nutrition of the retina and insufficient tear production.
“Also, the organ of vision experiences a great load when the gaze is often shifted from the keyboard to the screen, since these elements of the computer are at different distances and are not equally illuminated,” adds Ksenia Shabalina, ophthalmologist at the Federal Research Center of the Federal Medical and Biological Agency of Russia.
The myth of carrots and blueberries
Many have heard that in order to see well, you need to eat enough carrots. And also - that blueberries help to improve vision, it is no coincidence that all supplements "for vision" contain it.However, you shouldn't take this story as a guide to action. First, while our bodies do need vitamin A for eye health, you can get enough from your diet as a whole, not just carrots. Secondly, although blueberries contain lutein, which is potentially associated with improved vision, in order to have any effect, you will have to eat 5-6 kilograms of berries a day.
The myth "stop using the phone, you ruin your eyes"
There is a widespread theory that gadgets greatly impair vision. But in fact, phones, tablets and TVs, although they put a great strain on vision, cannot cause moderate to high myopia or hyperopia. And if our favorite technologies are really to blame for something not very good, then it is in the accommodation spasm.
“There is a clear lens in the eye called the crystalline lens. When the muscles of the lens are pulled out and it becomes flat, we see into the distance. The normal state of the eye is exactly this - accommodation into the distance, when the muscles are relaxed. To examine an object up close, the ciliary muscle contracts, the Zinn ligaments relax, as a result of which the elastic lens increases its curvature and becomes convex. Accordingly, if we look closely at the screens of computers, phones or books for a very long time, the muscles remain in the working position and get used to it. And if after that we want to look into the distance, the muscles hardly accommodate. That is, the lens is pulled with difficulty - this is called the accommodation spasm,”explains Armine Gevorgyan.
The myth of reading from a screen, lying down and without light
The good news: it makes no difference to the eyes whether we read from a luminous screen, real or electronic paper. The only thing that matters to them is the illumination. Reading with dim or, conversely, too bright light strains the eyes. They also get tired of watching TV in a dark room, for example, because in the dark, the pupil dilates and too much bright light from a local light source enters the retina.
But reading lying down is not as harmful as they say. Especially if you keep the correct distance and direction. The eye is most comfortable looking forward when the central retinal area is working. When we read lying down, the angle of view often changes, because we are already looking from the top down, but if we follow this, there will be no additional fatigue.
The myth of glasses that "make it worse"
Perhaps among your acquaintances there are people who postpone the visit to the ophthalmologist as long as possible, so long as they do not have glasses prescribed and their eyes do not “relax”. So, this is also a myth. “Many people think that if they put on glasses for near, their vision will deteriorate and they will have to stay in glasses forever. However, the reality is that if near glasses are prescribed by a doctor, then they just unload the eye muscle. And the fact that in the end we get used to working with glasses is also good, because this way we get away from eye strain, increased fatigue from the tension of the muscles of the shoulder girdle and neck, from headaches,”explains Erika Eskina.
What will really help protect your eyesight
According to experts, at the first manifestations of dry eye syndrome, it is important to see an ophthalmologist. He will prescribe preservative-free moisturizing drops to help keep your eyes hydrated and work comfortably. Here are some other things to look out for:
Exercise for the eyes. It is needed so that the eye muscles can rest. Favorite rule of ophthalmologists: 20-20-20. That is, every 20 minutes, look for 20 seconds at a distance of 20 feet (6 meters). And you can also glue a dot on the window and look at it, then into the distance. By the way, as for eye movements to the right, left and in a circle, they simply improve blood flow, and together with it slightly improve eye nutrition, but do not give a special therapeutic effect.
Correction of vision. It is important to choose glasses for a computer and lenses with a doctor in order to take into account any individual issues.If you do not have ophthalmic problems, you should have a dilated pupil examination once a year. This will help to timely identify, and therefore successfully treat, diseases that are asymptomatic in the early stages.
Air humidity. It is useful (by the way, not only for eye health, but also for health in general - both physical and mental) to walk more in the fresh air. And you can use a humidifier to keep track of the optimal humidity at home.
Food. In order for the eyes to stay healthy longer, it is important to include foods rich in vitamins A and E in the diet. But in general, nutrition should be balanced so that all organs and systems work normally. In agreement with the doctor, if he sees a need for this, you can take vitamins.
Working conditions. To make your eyes less tired, make sure that the distance to the monitor is at least 30-40 centimeters (ideally -
70-80 centimeters). If the work has to be voluminous, it is better to do it on the big screen. Also pay attention to the font: it should be clearly visible from a distance of about 80 centimeters without eye strain.
“Excessive exercise can significantly impair vision, but the good news is that it is most often temporary. After a good rest, vision returns to normal levels,”says Ksenia Shabalina. However, if the symptoms of visual fatigue persist and the quality of vision is steadily declining, it is important to make an appointment with a doctor to be on the safe side.
PHOTOS: Krakenimages.com - stock.adobe.com (1, 2)