Eye specialists say the recent past has been characterised by a sharp rise in the number of patients with computer vision syndrome, also called digital eye strain.
At Agarwal Eye Hospital, one of the eye care facilities in Kigali, for instance, doctors say between 50-90 per cent of the patients of eye diseases they receive have digital eye strain problems.
“It’s not a single problem but a group of symptoms called computer vision syndrome which come as a result of long term screen use of either tablets, telephones and television,” says Dr Ciku Mathenge.
The doctors say, repeated eye movements from side to side and up and down on screens for several hours cause strain of the eyes, which is worsened by the flicker and glare of screens.
Some of the symptoms of the digital eye strain are pain in the eyes, redness of the eyes, dryness of the eyes (feeling like there is dust or a burning sensation in the eyes), double vision headache and neck pain.
Mathenge and other eye specialists say to avoid falling victim of computer vision syndrome, one can follow the following procedures;
Positioning the computer, chair and desk correctly
The best position for a computer screen is about 10-15cm (distance of about half an A4 piece of paper) below eye level and about 50-70cm (about double the size of the length of an A4 piece of paper) away from your face.
Have the right light in the room
Keep bright lighting overhead to a minimum and shining on your desk not your eyes or the screen.
“Window light should come from the side not from the front or behind you. You’ll have to position the computer screen to reflections from windows or overhead lights” says Mathenge.
He also advises adding a glare filter to the monitor.
Give your eyes a break
Look away from away from the screen into the distance every 30 minutes and look at something around 20 feet away (about the distance from one side of the road to another) for about 20 seconds.
“One should blink so often because it keeps the eyes moist. The eyes have their natural tears that are best at washing and lubricating the eyes,” says Mathenge.
He adds that if the eyes remain dry, you may need lubricating eye drops.
All in all, specialists call for regular eye tests such that doctors can help let you know the appropriate measures to take for maintaining good eye sight.