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Keep an eye out: Why screen-time is bad for your eyes

Keep an eye out: Why screen-time is bad for your eyes

Keep an eye out: Why screen-time is bad for your eyes

Chronic eye conditions and dry eye disease are on the rise in Australia and are one of the most common reasons people see an optometrist. However, many people are in the dark when it comes to the importance of regular eye hygiene. We chat with an expert who offers advice on how you can better care for your eyes.

“Why do you brush and floss your teeth? Not just because your parents taught you to – you’re preventing serious dental disease that can be crippling – both physically and financially. So, why do people often wait until something goes wrong with their eyes before taking care of them?” says Optometrist Jim Kokkinakis from The Eye Practice in Sydney.

Dr Kokkinakis says that good eye health is often ignored. “Too much screen time on electronic devices, exposure to air conditioning and using make-up that has become contaminated are some common mistakes. Dismissing symptoms such as dry, burning, or red can lead to the development of larger issues that can end up becoming costly to treat.

Dr Kokkinakis says symptoms to be aware of include:

  • dry, itchy or red eyes
  • the feeling of a ‘foreign body’ or sand in the eye
  • crusting of eyelashes (particularly on awakening); flaking of the skin around the eyelids
  • burning or excessive watering of the eye
  • sensitivity to light; blurred vision

What leads people to suffer from dry, burning, or red eyes?

These symptoms are usually multifactorial. Generally though excessive use of digital devices used in air-conditioned offices is a major contributor.

Are these symptoms seasonal and related to allergies?

These symptoms can be associated with allergies. Allergies will typically cause itchy eyes though. Allergic eyes usually will respond to cold compresses and preservative free anti-allergy drops, whereas dry eyes need more help.

What impact is our screen-time having on our eye health?

In my opinion screen time is having an enormous impact on not just our eye health but also our general health. It seems to be causing a greater prevalence of dry eyes, myopia (short-sightedness), poor posture, which then leads to musculoskeletal imbalances, and even an epidemic of Vitamin D deficiency due to lack of outdoor activity.

In your opinion, how does one go about good eye health, is there a specific regimen to follow?

Now that we are heavily entrenched in the digital age we need to understand that looking after eyes is more important than ever. A specific regimen to follow includes:

  • Eating a balanced healthy diet that includes green leafed vegetables will support the metabolic demand of the retina and possibly avert age related macular degeneration.
  • Try and obtain as much out-door activity as possible, leaving the mobile phone at home.
  • When staring at a digital devices being conscious of continual blinking.
  • Lubricating our eyes as required, but no more frequently than twice a day with preservative-free drops. 
  • Keeping our eyelids and eye lashes clean with preservative-free eyelid wipes.  This is not dissimilar to brushing and flossing our teeth.

Other than rest/ sleep, how do we give our eyes some downtime?

 This is easy. Get outdoors, enjoy the scenery while getting some exercise. Dramatically reducing social media interaction will go a long way to helping our eyes.

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