The Vice-Chairman of the Nigerian Optometric Association, Lagos State chapter and an optometrist at Vista Eye Centre, Dr Gloria Okoekhian has warned that office workers are the most vulnerable to an eye condition called, Computer vision Syndrome (CVS).
Dr. Okoekhian during an interview with a PUNCH correspondent elaborated on what the condition is, the risk factors, prevention and management of the computer vision syndrome(CVS).
Read excerpts from the interview below:
What Is Computer Vision Syndrome?
“Computer vision syndrome (CVS) is a group of vision-related problems experienced from prolonged exposure of the eyes to light rays or radiation from the computer and other digital devices.
Computer vision syndrome can cause great discomfort to persons who use the computer, laptops, phones and other similar devices, irrespective of their age or race.”
How do computers or other similar devices affect the vision?
Many people spend long hours in front of a computer screen every day. Staring at a computer for long periods of time requires the eye muscles to focus at near range and this may result in headaches, blurred vision, eye fatigue and others.
Recent studies and researches have also revealed that digital devices emit light which contains the harmful blue light. Blue light, as a component of sunlight, boosts our memory, attention and energy levels.
However, there is also a part of this blue light which is harmful to the eyes. Blue light exposure may increase the risk of macular degeneration, an eye disease that causes vision loss.
This is because the wavelength of blue light enables it to penetrate through to the retina (the inner lining of the back of the eyes) and too much exposure to blue light can damage light-sensitive cells in that area.
How Prevalent Is CVS In Nigeria?
“Globally, research has shown that 50 to 90 percent of people who work in front of a computer screen have at least one or more of the symptoms.
We may not be able to put a figure to this. But there is no gainsaying that the prevalence or incidence rate of computer vision syndrome in Nigeria today will be high and the reason is not strange.
The use of computer and digital devices has increased astronomically, more so with the advent of smart phone technology and prolonged hours of Internet browsing and social media addiction.
Many people may be experiencing these vision-related symptoms but are not aware that it could be related to the prolonged use of digital devices, since most people do not feel the need to have their eyes properly examined.”
Which categories of people are the most affected and how are they exposed to it?
“Workers who use the computer for prolonged uninterrupted hours are most likely to experience the syndrome.
The same also applies to students (young adults or teenagers) who study with the computer and similar devices as well as those glued to the social media sites on their phones.”
What are the symptoms of CVS?
“Anyone with CVS may experience one or more of the common symptoms which include eyestrain, blurred vision, headache, eye fatigue (a feeling of tiredness around and within the eyes), dry eyes, peppery or burning sensation, teary eyes and neck and shoulder pain.”
How is it diagnosed?
“A diagnosis of CVS is made after a comprehensive eye examination that reveals the symptoms and signs of CVS in the person that is also matched with the results of the various tests conducted.”
Can CVS lead to long-term eye conditions?
“Although, there is no proof that it leads to any serious damage in the short term, it is worthy to note that continuous exposure of the eyes to the harmful blue light puts a person at risk of developing macular degeneration which, if not detected and managed early enough, can impair vision.”
Can it affect sleep?
“Yes, it can affect sleep. Studies have shown that blue light can disrupt natural sleep patterns, invariably reducing the quality of sleep.”