ANKARA

Increased use of digital devices during the COVID-19 pandemic could affect eye health adversely, a Turkish eye doctor warned on Wednesday.

Prof. Atilla Bayer told Anadolu Agency that as online education has replaced face-to-face education in most countries because of coronavirus, both adults and children should be aware of the risk of myopia as a result of increased usage of smart phones, tablets and computers.

Arguing that the use of smart devices for a long time adversely affects blinking reflex, he said: “The duration that eye remains open increases, and consequently dryness, known as xerophthalmia, occurs. Symptoms such as redness, watering, sense of burning are more common in dry environments.”

Synthetic tears can provide relief in case of dryness in eyes, he added.

Bayer said that with the decrease in blinking reflex, light sensitivity can increase in children with allergies. “Redness, burning, fast blinking can occur, and even tic disorders may emerge.”

He recommended precautions to protect eye health. “At least 60 centimeters [nearly 24 inches] of distance should be set between the eye and the device,” Bayer said. “Eyes should be rested every 30 minutes. One should go out to balcony or garden, and look at the horizon line to change the near focus to far focus, spend time with family and indulge in different activities.”

According to Bayer, the brightness level of the screen is also of critical importance. “Screen brightness should be at optimum level, not too bright. Not only should they set brightness and distance properly, but the screen should be kept at eye level as well.”

He also advised limiting the use of gaming devices during this period.

* Writing by Dilan Pamuk in Ankara

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