Tuesday, March 28, 2023
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The eyes have it — worst. Work from home and increased screen time is ruining our vision

WFH has been bad news for necks and backs as well as our eyes. It now seems to be only a matter of time before most of our body parts give up and go on a strike.

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Every night before I prepare to sleep these days, I find myself wiping a gush of tears off my face. Some of these tears can be attributed to all the embarrassing moments of my life that my brain decides to revisit just before I am about to doze off, but most of them are a direct result of the excessive screen exposure that I subject my eyes to every day while working from home.

Since the announcement of the Covid-induced lockdown on 24 March, we have been confined to the limits of our houses, with rare visits to the neighbourhood market. Inside the house, though, screens have completely taken over my daily schedule. Every morning, I open my eyes to my phone screen to zero notifications on Instagram, followed by a dose of bad news from different corners of India, after which I exercise in front of my TV screen, and then dutifully dig my eyes into my computer screen for a large part of the day, often without a break. It’s safe to say that from entertainment to working, my day is passed floating from one black mirror to another.

According to a report in The Hindu, a doctor practising telemedicine said there has been a 30 per cent increase in complaints of eye strain, dry or itchy eyes, headache, blurred vision and physical and mental fatigue.

Lockdown and increased digital interaction due to classes being held online has also put more children at risk of developing myopia. A survey conducted by OLX found that children aged between 5 and 15 years are spending twice the amount of time in front of screens than what they did earlier.

A survey conducted in the first week of lockdown showed our social media consumption had increased by 87 per cent during the lockdown and of television by 38 per cent. India has also reported a 95 per cent increase in porn consumption.

Also read: Covid-19 transformed workforces, but younger employees have been seeking flexibility for years


The increased pressure of work from home

The joy of not hustling through the traffic and over-crowded public transport every morning was a short-lived dream before the reality of work from home (WFH) started haunting us. While most Indian bosses have revelled in making employees slog 24×7, and clients have completely forgotten the already messed up notion of ‘working hours’ that India Inc. had earlier, WFH has been bad news for necks and backs as well as our eyes. It now seems to be only a matter of time before most of our body parts give up and go on a strike.

However, work is not the only devil here. I don’t think I need to stress on the awkward positions in which a lot of us choose to watch movies or TV shows or the way we laze it out in our beds when the day is about to end and fuel in our body is running out. From responding to texts while looking at the phone from the corner of our eyes to watching TV shows on our phones while lying down; all of us have been there.

Dr Parul Sharma, director at Max Eye Care, Max Hospitals, points out that posture and extra work are not the only issues. Even our houses are not conducive spaces to carry out work for long hours. “Your posture, ambient lighting in the room, brightness of your screen — everything contributes to the added strain on your eyes,” she told ThePrint while pointing out how it’s extremely necessary to ensure ambient lighting in the room, where there’s no strong source of light in your line of vision.

Also read: The office chair—what I miss the most in Covid lockdown working from home


How to take care of your eyes

One of the easiest and most important thing to do while working is to either blink for 10 seconds every 10 minutes or for 20 seconds every 20 minutes, says Dr Sharma. “While working for long hours, blinking rate of the eyes also reduces putting extra strain on the eye muscle.” She said this helps in minimising damage that your tear film can sustain.

Other than that, the doctor suggests keeping the laptop away at arm’s length while working and maintaining a 90 degree angle for the elbows is the desirable posture. “To maintain moisture, off-the-shelf eye drops can be used, which have no side effects and help maintain the necessary moisture in the eyes.”

Even if you don’t have weak eyes, wearing spectacles that filter blue rays might be a good idea. Lenskart, for instance, claims its BLU Smartphone lenses cut about 95 per cent of harmful blue rays that emanate from our screens.

As someone who has worn spectacles for 20 years of her 24-year-long existence, I personally vouch for lenses that provide UV protection. Their usage has significantly reduced headaches for me. I might have been wiping off a lot more tears otherwise.

Views are personal.

Also read: Flexible hours and regular virtual contact — How companies can support remote workforces

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