If there is one thing that has increased significantly since the pandemic, it is screen time – for both adults and children. With work from home, online classes, less time spent outdoors and more spent binge-watching Netflix and other streaming services, browsing social media and or random websites, our eyes are facing the brunt of the pandemic and extended lockdown. In fact, as per data from the Department of Telecommunication, India’s internet consumption has increased by 13 per cent during the lockdown.
The monsoons are also a period when infections such as conjunctivitis, dry eyes and others are on the rise. Making matters more worrisome, the
American Association of Ophthalmologists (AAO) has said that the coronavirus can spread through the eyes, just as it can through the nose and mouth.
With the pandemic making it difficult for people to go out and see an eye specialist, hence, it is important to follow proper eye hygiene and care practices to ensure that you keep your eyes safe and healthy. We take a look at tips to follow to care for your eyes.
Always wash your hands before touching your eyes. This become even more imperative during the pandemic, as common eye infections and COVID-19 can be avoided to a large extent by washing our hands. Avoid touching or rubbing your eye and if you have to, apply a clean, soft and wet face cloth on your eyes, instead. Be careful while washing your eyes and ensure that you are using clean water. Alternatively, you can use a sterile saline solution. Image credit: Image by ivabalk from Pixabay Studies have shown that eating food rich in nutrients such as Omega 3 fatty acids, lutein, zinc, copper and Vitamin C to keep your eyes healthy. Fatty fish such as salmon and tuna, green leafy vegetables such as spinach, citrus fruits and proteins sources such as nuts, eggs and lentils are good for your eyes. A good diet also reduces your chances of becoming obese or getting blood pressure, both of which are harmful for your eyes. Image credit: Image by conceptroof from Pixabay Smoking can lead to heart disease and cancer, but di you know that it can also impair your eyes? Studies have shown that smoking is one of the causes of eye ailments such as glaucoma, cataract, diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration, which happens when a part of your retina called the macula is damaged. Smokers are also twice as likely to have dry eye syndrome as non-smokers. Smoking can also damage the optic nerves, which connect the eys to the brain, and could lead to blindness, if damaged. Image credit: Image by Janek Szymanowski from Pixabay According to the AAO, it is a good idea to wear eyeglasses or sunglasses while stepping outdoors as they can help shield the eyes from infected respiratory drops. Take care of your spectacles. Clean your spectacles with a sterile solution, especially if you have been outdoors. The cleaner you keep your lenses, the less strain your eyes would need to take to be able to see properly. Always store your eye glasses in its designated, hardshell case to ensure that it does not attract dust and dirt. Image by Image credit: Ana_J from Pixabay Avoid wearing contact lenses if you are staying indoors. If you must, ensure that you wash your hands with mild soap and dry them with a towel before you put your contact lenses on. Always follow the guidelines from the manufacturer while cleaning your lens, and store them in sterile liquid in its container. Never reuse disposable lenses or wear your lenses while sleeping. Image by Image credit: Martin Slavoljubovski from Pixabay Adjust the brightness, size and contrast the display to a level that does not strain your eyes. If you feel that you are getting an eye strain from prolonged computer use, you can wear glasses designed for computers. With regards to colour, opt for a black text on a white background and, as a rule of thumb, ensure that the text is three times the smallest text you can read from a normal viewing position. Image credit: Image by StartupStockPhotos from Pixabay Ambient lighting can also have an impact on your eyes - ensure that it is not too bright nor too dim. Avoid sitting near the window while working as the intense light from outside can strain your eyes. Try using an anti-glare screen to reduce reflections. Bright white fluorescent tube lights tend to be harmful to your eyes as they emit the most UV radiation. Opt for warm lights such as incandescent war, light bulbs, Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) or energy-efficient LED lights, instead. Image by Image credit: StockSnap from Pixabay Always position your computer so that it is between 40 and 60 cms (approx. one arm’s distance) away from your eyes. Adjust your monitor so that your screen is at your eye level if you do not wear glasses or lens, or wear single prescription glasses, and at slightly below, eye level of you wear bifocal or progressive lenses. The screen should also be tilted away at a 10-20 degree angle. Image by Image credit: StartupStockPhotos from Pixabay Eye exercises may not be able to correct existing eye conditions, but they lower your risk of developing eye problems, improves concentration and reduces the strain on your eyes. You can start of by taking a break after 20 minutes of working. Sit upright, rub your palms together until you feel the heat and place them on your eyes, ensuring that you cover them completely. Repeat this a couple of times. Do not forget to blink your eyes regularly, especially when you are sitting in front of the screen. Blinking protects your eyes from harmful external stimuli such as bright lights or dust and helps spread tears across your eyes to lubricate it. You can also roll your eyes from top, slowly moving in a clockwise direction till you complete a circle. Image credit: Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay You can relax your tired eyes at the end of the day by applying two slices of chilled cucumbers or tea bags on your eyes. You can also apply a cold compress and some mint ice cubes or splash rose water on your eyes to reduce the puffiness. Give your eyes a massage, focusing on your eyebrows and areas under your eyes to get the blood flowing. Also, ensure that you give yourself 6-8 hours of sleep every day and avoid looking at any digital screen atleast an hour to two hours before bed. Image by Image credit: Seksak Kerdkanno from Pixabay