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7 eyecare tips for screen addicts

One way to avoid computer vision syndrome is to ensure the prescription of your glasses is right for close scrutiny of your device.
One way to avoid computer vision syndrome is to ensure the prescription of your glasses is right for close scrutiny of your device.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

Seven eyecare tips for those who are often glued to their computers and other devices

People are often glued to screens these days, from mobile phones to tablets as well as television sets, laptops and computers.

Indeed, some can end up gazing at a screen all day - at home, at work and even while on the move.

Whether you are a video game addict or social media maven, looking at such screens for prolonged periods of time can tire your eyes and cause vision-related problems.

Some symptoms include eye pain and fatigue, blurred vision, redness in the eyes and the need to blink more or close your eyes more often.

This is known as computer vision syndrome and, despite the name, it can occur with the use of handheld devices like the mobile phone or tablet, said Dr Lee Sao Bing, medical director of Shinagawa Eye Centre at Wheelock Place.

"The level of discomfort increases with the amount of computer use or screen time...

"Our eyes get dry from prolonged use. We tend to blink less when concentrating on the computer or television screen."

Dr Lee gives tips on how you can avoid computer vision syndrome.

CHECK THE PRESCRIPTION OF YOUR GLASSES OR LENSES

Ensure that the prescription is appropriate for close computer work. Glasses or contact lenses that are not of the correct power will cause your eyes to tire easily.

ENSURE GOOD LIGHTING

Proper lighting can help to achieve maximum comfort and, if you are at work, productivity. When in the office, for instance, try to angle your monitor away from light sources and windows so that there is no light reflecting off the screen. This can cause visual disturbances, such as glare and difficulty in seeing words on the computer screen.

ADJUST THE BRIGHTNESS AND CONTRAST OF THE SCREEN

Toggle the display settings of your computer or mobile device so as to achieve a similar level of brightness as your surroundings. As a guide, if you cannot read the words well, the screen may be too dim, while a screen that is too bright will feel glaring to your eyes.

REST YOUR EYES FREQUENTLY

Your eyes will become drier the longer you spend looking at the screen. A strong draught from air-conditioning also tends to aggravate this problem.

Take frequent breaks from the screen to prevent headaches, blurry vision and dry eyes. Look away or close your eyes every half an hour.

If your eyes are dry, consider using lubricating eye drops. These can be found at pharmacies and eye doctors' clinics.

INCREASE POINT SIZE OF FONT

This will help to reduce eye strain. Increasing the point size of the font may also improve your reading experience. This is helpful if you are reading long documents or have to spend hours editing on your computer or mobile device.

DON'T 'OVERWEAR' OR MISHANDLE YOUR CONTACT LENSES

Wearing such lenses for a prolonged period of time, coupled with inadequate cleaning of the lenses, can lead to a variety of eye infections. Some infections may even cause blindness. Contact-lens use will dry your eyes out over time. If you are expecting a long day in front of the computer, for example, wear glasses in place of contact lenses when your eyes become too dry.

GET YOUR EYES CHECKED REGULARLY

Going for eyecare examinations, either by an optometrist or ophthalmologist, will ensure that you still have the appropriate prescription for your glasses or lenses.

A doctor can also prescribe the appropriate treatment if your eyes are found to be too dry.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 01, 2016, with the headline 'Screen addicts, look away now and then'. Print Edition | Subscribe