Vision disorders are on the rise around the world, including in India. Modern lifestyle and work environment of staring continuously at the television, laptop, and smartphone screens have accelerated the damage to our eyes. Online classes, particularly during and after Post COVID-19 pandemic, have become prevalent as a means of distance education. While they provide the convenience of learning from home, extended exposure to screens during online classes can potentially contribute to certain eye problems. Here are a few common eye problems associated with prolonged screen use during online classes:
In India, there are several common eye problems that people commonly experience. Some of the prevalent eye problems in India include
- Cataract: Cataract is the leading cause of blindness in India. It is a condition where the lens of the eye becomes cloudy, leading to blurry vision and eventual vision loss if left untreated.
- Glaucoma: Glaucoma is another common eye problem in India. It is a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve, often due to increased intraocular pressure. If left untreated, glaucoma can lead to permanent vision loss.
- Conjunctivitis: It is an inflammation of the conjunctiva which can be allergic, viral or bacterial leading to itching, pain, redness, burning & discharges from the eyes.
- Diabetic Retinopathy: With an increase in the number of people living with diabetes in India, diabetic retinopathy has become a prevalent eye problem. It occurs when high blood sugar levels damage the blood vessels in the retina, leading to vision impairment or even blindness.
- Refractive Errors: Refractive errors, such as near-sightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), and astigmatism, are quite common in India. These conditions can cause blurred vision and can be corrected with prescription eyeglasses, contact lenses, or refractive surgery.
- Age- related Macular Degeneration (ARMD): AMD or ARMD is a progressive eye disease that affects the macula, the central part of the retina responsible for sharp central vision. It commonly occurs in older adults and can lead to significant vision loss.
- Other eye ailments associated with prolonged screen use during online classes
- Digital Eye Strain: Also known as Computer Vision Syndrome, digital eye strain refers to a group of eye and vision-related problems that arise from prolonged use of digital devices such as computers, tablets, and smartphones. Symptoms may include eye fatigue, dryness, blurred vision, headaches, and neck and shoulder painDry eyes: Staring at a screen for an extended period can reduce blinking frequency, leading to a decrease in tear production and subsequent dryness and irritation of the eyes. This can cause discomfort, redness, and a gritty sensationEye Fatigue and Eye Muscle Strain: Continuous focusing on a screen can strain the muscles that control eye movement and accommodation. This can lead to eye fatigue, headaches, and difficulty in focusing on objects at varying distances.
- Blue Light Exposure: Digital screens emit blue light, which can reach deeper into the eye compared to other types of light. Prolonged exposure to blue light may increase the risk of macular degeneration and disrupt sleep patterns.
Vision disorder related Facts
- According to the World Health Organization (WHO), at least 2.2 billion people worldwide have a near or distance vision impairment.
- The major causes of blindness include malnutrition, trachoma & cataract among others.
- Causes of blindness in India
Essential Tips for Maintaining Optimal Eye Health
There are several natural ways you can boost and maintain eye health. Here are some tips
- Diet: Maintaining a healthy diet can play a significant role in promoting eye health. Here are some dietary recommendations to support good eye health:
- Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables: Include colorful fruits and vegetables in your diet, such as leafy greens (spinach, kale), carrots, bell peppers, broccoli, berries, citrus fruits, and sweet potatoes. These foods are rich in vitamins A, C, E, and other beneficial antioxidants that support healthy eyes.
- Consume omega-3 fatty acids: Incorporate foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fatty fish (salmon, tuna, sardines), walnuts, flaxseeds, and chia seeds. Omega-3 fatty acids contribute to good retinal health and may help prevent dry eyes and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
- Include sources of vitamin C and E: Foods like oranges, strawberries, kiwi, almonds, and sunflower seeds are high in vitamin C and E, which act as antioxidants to protect the eyes from damage caused by free radicals.
- Increase intake of zinc: Foods like oysters, lean meats, poultry, nuts, and legumes are great sources of zinc. Zinc is essential for good vision and helps with the absorption of vitamin A
- Consume lutein and zeaxanthin: Leafy green vegetables (spinach, kale, collard greens), corn, and egg yolks are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants are believed to reduce the risk of age-related eye conditions, including cataracts and AMD.
- Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water to maintain good overall health, including eye health. Proper hydration supports the production of tears and prevents dry eyes.
- Limit processed and unhealthy foods: Reduce your intake of processed foods, saturated fats, and sugary snacks, as they may contribute to poor eye health and increase the risk of age-related eye conditions
- Practice portion control: Maintain a balanced diet and manage portion sizes to maintain a healthy weight. Obesity and excess weight can increase the risk of developing diabetes and associated eye problems like diabetic retinopathy
Exercise and Yoga
Engaging in eye exercises and yoga techniques can help improve eye health and reduce eye strain. Here are a few exercises and yoga poses that you can incorporate into your routine
- Palming: Rub your hands together vigorously for a few seconds to generate warmth. Close your eyes and place your warm palms gently over your eyes, without applying pressure. Relax and enjoy the warmth for a minute or two, allowing your eyes to rest.
- Blinking: Sit or stand comfortably and blink your eyes rapidly for a few seconds. Then, close your eyes and keep them closed for a few seconds. Repeat this process several times to help moisten the eyes and reduce dryness
- Eye rolling: Slowly roll your eyes in a clockwise direction, and then repeat in a counterclockwise direction. Perform this exercise for a few repetitions in each direction to improve eye flexibility and blood circulation
- Focus change: Select an object in the distance and focus on it for a few seconds. Then, shift your focus to an object closer to you, such as your finger held at arm’s length. Alternate your focus between near and distant objects to exercise the eye muscles and improve focus flexibility.
- Figure Eight: Imagine an imaginary figure eight (or infinity sign) in front of you. Trace the shape with your eyes, following it in a smooth and controlled manner. Repeat this exercise for a minute or two to improve eye coordination and tracking ability.
Yoga: Yoga Poses that can have a positive impact on eye health include:
- Eye Rotation: Sit comfortably and gently rotate your eyes in a circular motion, first clockwise and then counterclockwise. Perform several rotations in each direction to help enhance eye mobility and reduce stiffness.
- ‘Simhasana’ (Lion’s Pose): Sit on your heels, open your mouth wide, stick out your tongue fully, and focus your gaze at the space between your eyebrows. Take a deep breath in, and as you exhale, make a “ha” sound while sticking out your tongue. This pose is believed to stimulate the muscles around the eyes and throat
Other Essential Tips:
- There are several natural ways you can boost and maintain eye health. Here are some tips:
- Take Regular Breaks: Follow the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and look at an object at least 20 feet away. This helps relax the eye muscles and reduce eye strain.
- Blink Regularly: Be conscious of blinking to keep the eyes lubricated and prevent dryness.
- Adjust Display Settings: Optimize the brightness, contrast, and font size of your screen for comfortable viewing.
- Maintain Proper Posture: Sit at an appropriate distance from the screen (about arm’s length) and ensure your posture is ergonomic to minimize strain on the neck and shoulders.
- Use Blue Light Filters: Consider using blue light filtering glasses or enabling blue light filters on your devices to reduce exposure to blue light.
- Stay hydrated: Drinking enough water throughout the day helps keep your eyes hydrated and prevent dryness.
- Practice: good hygiene: Wash your hands regularly to reduce the risk of eye infections and avoid touching your eyes without clean hands.
- Protect your eyes from UV rays: When outdoors, wear sunglasses that block out UV rays to protect your eyes from harmful sun exposure.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Obesity and excess weight can increase the risk of developing conditions like diabetes, which can negatively impact eye health. Adopting a balanced diet and engaging in regular physical activity can help maintain a healthy weight and improve overall eye health.
- Quit smoking: Smoking is linked to an increased risk of several eye conditions, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, and optic nerve damage. Quitting smoking can lower the risk of these eye conditions and promote better eye health.
- Get regular eye check-ups: Following a comprehensive eye exam schedule recommended by an eye care professional helps detect any underlying eye conditions early and allows for prompt treatment.
- Manage chronic conditions: If you have chronic health conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure, work with your healthcare provider to keep these conditions under control. Managing them effectively can help protect your eyes from related complications.
- Manage stress: Prolonged stress can have a negative impact on overall health, including eye health. Incorporating stress management techniques like exercise, meditation, and relaxation techniques can help support good eye health.
- while these natural tips can contribute to eye health, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice.
- Add healthy fruits and vegetables rich in vitamins and minerals to your diet for better eye health.
- Never touch your eyes with bare hands. Don’t forget to wear protective glasses when using computers or stepping out in the sun.
- Try home remedies like cucumber slices, rose water, and almond oil to reduce dark circles and sunken eyes.
- Take special care of your hygiene while using eye lenses and avoid unhealthy practices like smoking.
India may have the highest burden of blindness which increases with age and has a detrimental effect on health, and wellbeing. In the field of eye health in India, there are several current trends and initiatives aimed at addressing the challenges. Here are a few key trends:
1. Increased access to eye care services: The Indian government has been focusing on improving access to eye care services in rural areas by setting up Vision Centers, which provide basic eye care services and can refer patients for further treatment, if needed.
2. Technological advancements: There have been significant advancements in technology that are impacting eye health in India. For example, telemedicine is being utilized to provide consultations and diagnosis remotely, especially in underserved areas.
3. Awareness and prevention: There is a growing emphasis on raising awareness about the importance of eye health and preventive measures. Public health campaigns and educational programs are being conducted to promote regular eye check-ups, early detection of eye diseases, and lifestyle factors that can affect eye health.
4. Collaborations and partnerships: Various organizations, including NGOs, are working in collaboration with the Indian government to tackle the eye health challenge. These partnerships help in expanding the reach of eye care services and implementing effective programs.
5. Research and innovation: There is ongoing research and innovation in the field of eye health in India. This includes developing new treatment methods, improving surgical techniques, and exploring the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning for early diagnosis of eye diseases.
6. Affordable treatment options: Efforts are being made to increase affordability and accessibility of eye care services, particularly for marginalized communities. This includes providing subsidized or free treatments for conditions like cataracts and glaucoma. Some states have excluded Cataract from Ayushman Bharat Scheme coverage which needs to be included again.
These trends and initiatives reflect the commitment of the Indian government and various stakeholders towards combating the eye health challenge in India and improving the overall well-being of its population.
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