When people stare at these gadgets for a long time, they forget to blink as often as they should and strain their eyes in the process, they explain. “I went to the doctor to get my son checked as he was blinking a lot suddenly and I got worried,” said a city parent, Ravesh Kumar , about his ten-year-old son. To his surprise he learnt his son was suffering from what is commonly ailing many children and young adults today: Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), also referred to as Digital Eye Strain. The problem results from prolonged computer, tablet, e-reader and cell phone use, say doctors. “Blinking is as important as breathing and because of this constant staring at smartphones and tablets the blink rate has reduced to almost half now.
On an average a normal blink rate is 14 to 16 times a minute but now it has reduced to 6 to 8 times a minute in people who are constantly staring at these gadgets. This is the biggest reason for CVS,” says Dr K Bhujang Shetty, chairman of Narayana Nethralaya , which treats some 30 such cases every day.
Adds Dr Dipali Prabhu, Consultant Opthamologist, Columbia Asia Hospital , Whitefield, “the main problem is that prolonged staring at the screen causes dryness in the eyes. The tear film gets evaporated because people don’t blink enough. Sadly, CVS is seen among kids as well because they are hooked onto all sorts of gadgets.”
Dr Dipali reveals she sees some five to six such cases daily among young adults . “Smart phones and IPads emit high energy visible light or blue light. Studies show that blue light damages the retina,” she adds.
Dr Bhujang Shetty suggests that people on a smartphone should take their eyes off it every 20 minutes and look at some object 20 feet away for 20 seconds to avoid the problem.