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How to protect your eyes from early damage

May 29, 2019 12:27 IST

Good lighting, proper distance while reading and the perfect posture are very important to avoid eyestrain, says Dr Minu Ramakrishnan.

How to care for your eyes

IMAGE: The compulsive itch to turn back to your phone plays out the same way across all age groups. Photograph: Satish Bodas/Rediff.com

There was a photograph recently circulated on WhatsApp.

It showed the poor state of affairs of our teenage kids, who during their vacations are busy sitting and staring into their mobile phones, whereas it showed teenagers of our generation happily playing outdoors.

This is the harsh reality of our times.

Various eye problems, either pre-existing or of recent onset, can affect youngsters.

It is important to identify the same at the earliest, to limit any damage and take appropriate treatment.

Modernisation has brought with it many new issues which need to be dealt with smartly. 

Especially as an eye doctor, here's my advice to young boys and girls:

1. Don't be a couch potato

Go outdoors and get some sunshine and exercise.

Research has shown that kids who spend more time on outdoor activities don't develop myopia (short-sightedness) as much as those who spend time indoors reading books, watching TV, etc.

2. Limit screen time on digital devices

Mobile phones, laptops, computers and gaming devices cause eyestrain if used excessively. The constant exposure to blue light can actually harm the light sensitive retina and reduce vision.

3. Don't delay your visit to the doctor

If you have never been to an eye doctor before, please make the first trip before it is too late.

Sometimes, reduced vision in one eye can go unnoticed, especially if the other eye is normal.

And it may be difficult to recover full vision if early treatment is not initiated.

Especially if you have had some trauma or injury to the eye, it is important to inform your parents and schedule an appointment with your eye doctor.

4. Don't ignore any eye symptoms.

Please bring it to the notice of your parents.

Most of them are easily treatable with medications and/or spectacles.

Also, if you are already using glasses, wear them regularly and go for a complete eye checkup to a doctor at least once a year.

5. Don't get into experimentation

If you are into tattoos or cosmetic implants, don't experiment with anything near your eyes.

The eye is a very delicate sensory organ, and it may not respond favourably to such things.

Also, if you plan to use coloured contact lenses, be aware of the precautions to be taken and follow them.

Be careful of any cosmetics which can enter the eye and cause problems.

6. Maintain hygiene

Maintain proper hygiene and good habits, like washing hands, keeping eyes clean.

Avoid touching your eyes with your fingers to avoid any infectious disease.

7. Use of light

Good lighting, proper distance while reading and the perfect posture are very important to avoid eyestrain.

7. Good dietary habits are equally important

Including carrots, spinach, coloured fruits and oily fish are important for keeping eyes healthy.

8. A good night's sleep is as essential.

Your body needs adequate rest, and so do your eyes.

9. While using the computer keep these things in mind

It is impossible to avoid using computers, hence these tips are helpful.

  • Avoid staring into the screen continuously, blink frequently. 
  • Use protective screens and eyewear.
  • Take regular breaks and give rest to your eyes.

10. Spending too much time outdoors? Use eye protection

One last point for the youngsters who still spend time outdoors is to use eye protection, especially if you are out in the sun for long or while playing contact sports.

Risk of damage due to harmful UV rays will not be noticeable in the early years, but it is known to be cumulative.

Use of photochromic/tinted glasses and broad-rimmed hats are helpful.

Also safe handling of chemicals during lab activities in school/ college is equally important.

Finally, after the exhaustive list for the youngsters, there is one tip for the parents: Don't ignore any of your child's eye symptoms.

A visit to your eye doctor will never be futile, even if their eyes are feel okay. Wishing your children and you 'Happy and Healthy Eyes'.

Dr Minu Ramakrishnan is professor and head, Department of Ophthalmology, K.J. Somaiya Medical College, Hospital and Research Centre.

Dr Minu Ramakrishnan
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