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The impact of screen time on eye health was among several hot topics discussed at the latest Gulf News webinar with three top eye experts from Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai (MEHD), particularly as studies show people are now spending between 12 and 17 hours a day in front of screens.

Dr Ammar Safar, Medical Director, Consultant Ophthalmologist and Vitreoretinal Surgeon at MEHD confirmed that prolonged screen time is indeed leading to an increase in childhood myopia, but said that removing screens was not the solution as some parents believe. He said that this issue was of particular interest to researchers at MEHD, as screens are here to stay as a part of everyday life, and that they are looking to find solutions that allow for their use while mitigating any negative effects. Until then, he advised that regular breaks from screens were necessary, as well as placing reasonable limits on screen time.

Dr Salman Waqar, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon and Specialist in Adult Glaucoma and Cataract Surgery, highlighted why glaucoma is known as the silent disease of the eye. As a condition where pressure builds up on the optic nerve, by the time the symptoms are noticeable, it can be too late to prevent permanent vision loss. The only way to detect and effectively treat the disease is to ensure that it is caught early. This is only possible with regular eye examinations, which can detect even the smallest changes that will allow for early action.

Dr Ammar insisted that above all, regular eye exams are vital in detecting issues before they can even appear as symptoms, particularly with patients who are diabetic or have a family history of glaucoma and other diseases.

For those wanting to be free of glasses and other visual aids, Dr Miguel Morcillo, Consultant Ophthalmologist and Chief of Cornea & Refractive Surgery, spoke of the latest laser techniques used to correct vision including Lasik. He emphasised the importance of a comprehensive assessment of each and every case so as to determine whether the patient is eligible, and which method would be most suitable for vision correction. He assured the audience that these procedures are absolutely safe, often with a very fast recovery rate.

As a retina specialist, Dr Safar also spoke about the importance of seeing the eye as inextricably connected with the overall health of the body, particularly where diabetics are concerned. The retina is susceptible to high blood sugar levels, which can lead to diabetic retinopathy, a condition that can cause blindness if left undiagnosed and untreated. He also mentioned that high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking and a bad diet will also impact the health of the eyes directly. He maintained that taking care of the body’s overall health by eating well and exercising would reflect positively on vision health.

The good news is that those who have diabetes-related conditions can actually treat and even reverse them. In the past 10-15 years, Dr Safar said there has been “a real revolution” in how cases like these are managed and treated. How much can be done, however, depends on the stage that the illness is diagnosed. The earlier that a patient presents, the better their outcome will be.

Attention to detail and care for each patient set Moorfields apart from other eye care centres, said Dr Safar, and the focus is only on one thing: a great long-lasting outcome for each patient.

MEHD is the first overseas branch of Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, the oldest and one of the largest centres for ophthalmic treatment, teaching and research in the world. Located at the Al Razi Medical Complex in Dubai Health Care City, the facility provides day case surgery and outpatient diagnostic and treatment services for a variety of surgical and non-surgical eye conditions. From adult to paediatric, simple to complex treatments, the hospital 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.

For more information on Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai, visit Moorfields.ae