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As technology advances, people are spending more and more time in front of screens. According to a study by Hootsuite in 2019, UAE residents spent an average of four hours on screen every day. While this figure is unsettling, Covid-19 restrictions last year ushered in a new digital way of life that has inevitably increased screen time.

Whether people are working or e-learning from home, work, school and social life have moved almost entirely online this year. The increased screen time can contribute to digital eye strain (DES), a group of eye and vision-related problems that stem from viewing digital screens for prolonged periods.

Digital-related eye strain affects people of all ages. If you spend hours a day using digital devices, you might notice that your vision blurs, and your eyes feel itchy and tired. You may also find your eyes become dry and watery.

While in our current digital climate technology is unavoidable, understanding the symptoms of DES and preventive measures can help people limit their likelihood of developing related ailments.

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Symptoms of digital eye strain

There are two groups of symptoms linked with DES - those associated with reduced blinking and dry eyes, and others related to focus of the lens.

Reduced blinking and dry eye can result in irritation, burning sensations, eye strain, tired eyes and sensitivity to light, and those that are associated with focusing include blurred vision at the near and far distances and headaches after using a digital device.

These symptoms can be triggered by poor lighting, glare and improper viewing distances.

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Diagnosing digital eye strain

DES can be diagnosed through a comprehensive eye examination. With emphasis on visual requirements at the computer or the working distance from the digital device, testing may include an assessment of patient history, visual acuity and refraction test to confirm the correct lens power needed to compensate for any refractive errors.

While solutions to screen-related vision problems are varied, they can usually be alleviated by getting regular eye care and making changes in how and the amount of time you view a screen.

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Treating digital eye strain

Keeping the eye refreshed and lubricated is also essential to alleviate and reduce the chances of developing DES. Increasing the number of times you blink (the eye’s way of getting the moisture it needs on its surface) and using artificial tears and a humidifier can help maintain optimal eye moisture.

Additionally, when viewing screens, adjusting brightness and contrast to a comfortable setting, reducing the glare, and sitting at an arm’s length from your computer can be beneficial.

Lastly, Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai recommend patients follow the 20-20-20 rule, which advises patients to take a 20-second break to view something 20 feet away every 20 minutes when using a digital screen.

The hospital brings you more than 200 years of British eye care to cater to all your eye health needs.

From adult to paediatric, simple to complex treatments, it offers a comprehensive range of eye care services provided by specialist teams of consultant ophthalmologists, optometrists and orthoptists, all under one roof in a state-of-the-art facility.

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