Tuesday , September 26 2017
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You can protect your eyesight

By Flavia Nassaka

Even if you work 24/7 with computers

Do you work in a medium or large organization with a lot of office based staff? Do most of them use computers for long periods? If so, what proportion of workers wears specs or spectacles, eyeglass or merely glasses if you like? If your organisation is typical, quite a large number will be using specs either always or when reading.

Dr. Juliet Otiti, an ophthalmologist or eye doctor at Georgina Eye Hospital in Kampala, says there is a medical condition technically referred to as Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) which is becoming quite common as people spend hours looking at various gadgets such as computers, phone screen, and Ipads.


She says CVS currently affects over 50%of office workers. The figure is likely to increase as more people are opting for smaller electronic devices for most of their work. Even after a day’s work, when many people return home, they run to their television sets whose light can equally affect them.

To explain how CVS develops, Otiti likens the eye to how a camera works. She says when the eye is constantly exposed to too much light, it gets damaged leading to symptoms such as strained feeling in the eyes after hours on the screen, burning feeling in the eyes, and blurred vision. Other symptoms include headaches.

Julius Nsubuga, an otherwise healthy 26-year old, understands all too well what Otiti is talking about. He wears specs. He did not always do and remembers vividly how it all came about.   It was during his second year working as an Information and communications (ICT) technician, he says. It started with him failing to see things clearly unless they were very near to his eyes. He never paid much attention to this until one day after he had been working on a computer for about four hours. He suddenly felt something sharp cutting through both his eyes.

“I lost focus and my view became blurry,” he recalls.  From then on, whenever he tried to work, he would get constant headaches – especially in the afternoons. That is when he decided to visit an ophthalmologist – which is the name for an eye doctor. These are quite different from opticians, who are specialists in designing, fitting, and dispensing corrective eye lenses.

Nsubuga says the doctor diagnosed his condition as `eye strain’ resulting from looking at the computer or an electronic screen for long hours. Nsubuga was suffering from CVS. He was told to get specs.

The CVS problem can be more pronounced in people who have had an incorrect prescription for glasses, those with existing eye defects, those who work under poor lighting and those with naturally dry eyes, says Dr. Anne Ampaire an ophthalmologist at Mulago National Referral Hospital in Kampala.

Doctors say you can prevent

CVS if you follow these tips:

When reading or typing on the computer, the eye changes the way it works. Otiti says the reflex of blinking so many times doesn’t happen which leads to the eyes getting dry and sore. As one blinks, the eye is replenished as a film which contains oxygen and nutrients that the eye needs to remain healthy is sent down. She says one needs to remind themselves to blink all the time when using a computer since it doesn’t happen naturally when looking at electronic screens.

Like any other part of the body, the eye needs rest says Otiti. This reduces the fatigue and strain. She recommends that you look away from your computer briefly every 15 minutes since the small muscles around the eye that keep moving and contracting need a break.

Ampaire says it’s always important to pay attention to external sources of light when one is working on a screen to prevent glare and reflection as these contribute to strain. Glare can be caused when an open window or a mirror is positioned behind a computer screen.  “The problem with glare is that the eye has to be constantly strained as it has to adapt to the difference in contrast between dark and light areas. As a result, one will either get a headache or lose clear view.”

This according to her can be controlled with use of curtains. If one cannot shift from the source of external light, they can change the type of indoor lighting or if possible use anti-glare screen filters which can be fixed on the screen to ensure that they get standard lighting.Change your glasses periodically. Otiti recommends that if one already uses glasses, they should ensure that they change them annually or consult their ophthalmologist on which eye drops to use. Since those with existing eye defects are the most affected, she says they could supplement their glasses with eye drops three times a day. There are also special lenses that can be used when working on computers.

One should have an eye checkup at least once a year. Though doctors say CVS cannot cause permanent blindness, it greatly affects the quality of life as one may not pay attention when they get headaches and pain. This makes it important to do a wellness checkup to rule out any underlying conditions.

You also need to ensure that you have good posture as this will not only reduce strain on the neck, back and shoulders but will also set you apart from too much lighting. It’s recommended that you sit upright and position your screen so it is directly in front of your face and slightly below eye level. The computer should be 20 to 30 inches away from you.

Even if you work 24/7 with computers

Do you work in a medium or large organization with a lot of office based staff? Do most of them use computers for long periods? If so, what proportion of workers wears specs or spectacles, eyeglass or merely glasses if you like? If your organisation is typical, quite a large number will be using specs either always or when reading.

Dr. Juliet Otiti, an ophthalmologist or eye doctor at Georgina Eye Hospital in Kampala, says there is a medical condition technically referred to as Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) which is becoming quite common as people spend hours looking at various gadgets such as computers, phone screen, and Ipads.


She says CVS currently affects over 50%of office workers. The figure is likely to increase as more people are opting for smaller electronic devices for most of their work. Even after a day’s work, when many people return home, they run to their television sets whose light can equally affect them.

To explain how CVS develops, Otiti likens the eye to how a camera works. She says when the eye is constantly exposed to too much light, it gets damaged leading to symptoms such as strained feeling in the eyes after hours on the screen, burning feeling in the eyes, and blurred vision. Other symptoms include headaches.

Julius Nsubuga, an otherwise healthy 26-year old, understands all too well what Otiti is talking about. He wears specs. He did not always do and remembers vividly how it all came about.   It was during his second year working as an Information and communications (ICT) technician, he says. It started with him failing to see things clearly unless they were very near to his eyes. He never paid much attention to this until one day after he had been working on a computer for about four hours. He suddenly felt something sharp cutting through both his eyes.

“I lost focus and my view became blurry,” he recalls.  From then on, whenever he tried to work, he would get constant headaches – especially in the afternoons. That is when he decided to visit an ophthalmologist – which is the name for an eye doctor. These are quite different from opticians, who are specialists in designing, fitting, and dispensing corrective eye lenses.

Nsubuga says the doctor diagnosed his condition as `eye strain’ resulting from looking at the computer or an electronic screen for long hours. Nsubuga was suffering from CVS. He was told to get specs.

The CVS problem can be more pronounced in people who have had an incorrect prescription for glasses, those with existing eye defects, those who work under poor lighting and those with naturally dry eyes, says Dr. Anne Ampaire an ophthalmologist at Mulago National Referral Hospital in Kampala.

Doctors say you can prevent

CVS if you follow these tips:

When reading or typing on the computer, the eye changes the way it works. Otiti says the reflex of blinking so many times doesn’t happen which leads to the eyes getting dry and sore. As one blinks, the eye is replenished as a film which contains oxygen and nutrients that the eye needs to remain healthy is sent down. She says one needs to remind themselves to blink all the time when using a computer since it doesn’t happen naturally when looking at electronic screens.

Like any other part of the body, the eye needs rest says Otiti. This reduces the fatigue and strain. She recommends that you look away from your computer briefly every 15 minutes since the small muscles around the eye that keep moving and contracting need a break.

Ampaire says it’s always important to pay attention to external sources of light when one is working on a screen to prevent glare and reflection as these contribute to strain. Glare can be caused when an open window or a mirror is positioned behind a computer screen.  “The problem with glare is that the eye has to be constantly strained as it has to adapt to the difference in contrast between dark and light areas. As a result, one will either get a headache or lose clear view.”

This according to her can be controlled with use of curtains. If one cannot shift from the source of external light, they can change the type of indoor lighting or if possible use anti-glare screen filters which can be fixed on the screen to ensure that they get standard lighting.Change your glasses periodically. Otiti recommends that if one already uses glasses, they should ensure that they change them annually or consult their ophthalmologist on which eye drops to use. Since those with existing eye defects are the most affected, she says they could supplement their glasses with eye drops three times a day. There are also special lenses that can be used when working on computers.

One should have an eye checkup at least once a year. Though doctors say CVS cannot cause permanent blindness, it greatly affects the quality of life as one may not pay attention when they get headaches and pain. This makes it important to do a wellness checkup to rule out any underlying conditions.

You also need to ensure that you have good posture as this will not only reduce strain on the neck, back and shoulders but will also set you apart from too much lighting. It’s recommended that you sit upright and position your screen so it is directly in front of your face and slightly below eye level. The computer should be 20 to 30 inches away from you.

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