Physicians have allayed the fears that too much exposure of the eyes to screen lights from digital devices like phones and laptops can cause long-term damage to the eyes.
They noted that while endless exposure of the eye to lights from a digital screen can cause some eye discomfort in the short term, there is no proof that it can result in long-term damage to the eye.
The experts were reacting to a study funded by the National Eye Institute, which indicated that exposure to light from digital devices can cause eye strain, blurred vision, and neck and shoulder pain.
According to the study, “computer screens and digital devices emit a lot of blue light; this unfocused visual ‘noise’ reduces contrast and can contribute to digital eye strain.”
The study also noted that people also tend to blink less when using digital devices, which contributes to dry eye and eye strain; disclosing that data from Vision Council revealed that 27 percent to 35 percent of Americans reported experiencing symptoms of eye strain after using digital devices.
The study, however, noted that children are more vulnerable than adults because their eyes absorb more blue light from digital devices.
Some experts have also warned that the recent explosion of virtual meetings, compelling many people to stare at digital screens for long hours, might cause serious eyesight damage in the long term.
However, speaking with PUNCH HealthWise in separate interviews, a lecturer in the Department of Ophthalmology, Faculty of Clinical Sciences, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Dr. Adegboyega Alabi; and an optometrist, Dr. Simi Ajana, allayed the fear, noting that people should not worry about the long-term damage of the eyes from exposure to digital lights.
According to Dr. Alabi, “From scientific evidence so far, lights from digital devices have little or no effect or no effect on the eye.
“I can recall that there was fear about the effect of computer screen lights on the eyes years back when the computer became more common. Out of fear, many people even started buying reflective lens to protect their eyes.
“I remember that some computer manufacturers came out to dismiss the fear and noted that the computer screens as manufactured were designed with the necessary protection for the eyes. I don’t think anything as changed since then after years of people using computers.
“I will, however, advice people to minimize the intensity of their eye exposure to the digital screen as much as possible,” he said.
Alabi said when people can suffer eye strain when they look at the screen for a long period, noting that by concentrating on the screen and not blinking for a long time, they can have eye discomfort.
He, however, noted that such discomforts are temporary and can be easily treated.
Also speaking with PUNCH HealthWise, Dr. Ajana reiterated the view of Alabi, noting that there is no proof of serious long-term damage to the eyes from exposure to digital screens.
Ajana stated that people also have different ways of adapting to exposure to lights, adding that there are people who can stare at the computer screen for hours without feeling any strain or discomfort.
She, however, urged Nigerians, especially those who feel eye discomfort from exposure to computer screen lights to consider using antireflective lights protector for their systems.
“What is most important though is that people must begin to take ocular hygiene seriously.
“Whether people are spending more time on digital platforms on not because of lockdowns, what is necessary is that people should have periodic comprehensive eye check. If people are doing that, any eye issue can be promptly detected and treated before it is too late,” she said.
According to the World Health Organisation, the majority of blind people live in developing countries, and generally, their blindness could have been avoided and cured,
The WHO also stated that as the world’s population increases and more people survives into late adulthood, the number of people with vision loss will increase.
The global health agency said more efforts should be made to recognize and treat persons with eye conditions from early age “for the benefit of the individual and the society”.
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