FACEBOOK and Twitter may be doing wonders for your online social life, but the amount of time spent keeping your eyes glued to the computer screen or your smartphone could have an adverse effect on your eyes, according to experts.
The increasing use of computers and cellphones may be good for technological advancement, it was having a negative impact on people’s eye health.
Dr. Truong has been seeing more people with strain-related eye problems such as blurred vision, eye fatigue, neck pains and headaches than ever before.
And young people were the most vulnerable.
Dr. Khoa Truong, an optometrist who owns KDT Optometry in San Diego, said he was seeing more patients with computer vision syndrome (CVS), a condition that was usually caused by extended and uninterrupted periods of focusing on a computer screen or television.
The temporary condition is characterised by dry, irritated and sometimes watery eyes, double or blurred vision, sore eyes, fatigue, light sensitivity and bloodshot eyes.
Medical experts estimate that the condition affects between 80 and 90 percent of people who spend three hours or more a day at a computer.
While the high-risk group used to be office workers, this trend is changing, with more young people reporting the syndrome symptoms.
And it looks like the easy access of internet and social networks on cellphones could be the cause of the upsurge.
“Alarmingly, I am finding these same problems in younger patients, more than likely due to the popularity of social sites like Facebook, Twitter and others, and the excessive time spent staring at computer monitors, smartphones and the like,” he said.
He pointed out that poor workplace conditions could contribute to the syndrome.
“When focusing on a fixed object, the normal blink reflex is not stimulated, and dry, uncomfortable red eyes are the result.
“Glare from artificial light reflecting off the computer monitor causes severe eye strain and the constant focusing of eyes without rest will cause fatigue and headaches,” he said.
After experiencing burning and sore eyes, short-sightedness and double vision, some patients go to an optometrist for a check-up.
Some comments Dr. Truong has heard include:
“Initially I thought that the short-sightedness was just ageing.
“It never really crossed my mind that computer use might have anything to do with the tiredness and irritability.
“When I was diagnosed with the syndrome I looked at the doctor, and I was like, what are you talking about… I didn’t know what the condition was all about,” he said.
While the syndrome was preventable and could be minimised by spending less time in front of a computer screen, treatment of this condition was available in a form of chemical lubricants such as natural tears or decongestants.
There was also homeopathic products that helped to relieve strained eye muscles.
The syndrome can also be minimised through minimal steps such as blinking more often, avoiding excessive bright light, adjusting or moving your monitor or tilting it, using computer reading glasses, and by taking frequent breaks away from your computer or cellphone.