Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Inputs from Dr. Mahipal Sachdeva, Chairman and Managing Director, New Delhi Centre for Sight on Eye Care Reduces Stress during Exams

Exam time means a lot of reading, writing and spending endless hours either in library or while gazing at computer screens to hunt for notes and finish assignments. All this usually results into stressful and strained eyes.

Therefore, students are advised to take good care of their health and eyes in particular. 

Strained or tired eyes affect around five per cent of the schoolchildren, especially during revising sessions which start just before examination days. So if your child complains of headache, tired eyes or blurred vision, the best advice is to let them take regular short breaks, close eyes for a while or look out of the window or at some distant object to let them relax. Checking smartphone or watching TV is not a break!

One has to be particular about eyes as tired eyes can be very disconcerting. The last thing parents need to fear during examination days is the unexpected trip to the optician or the eye hospital as it can be very distracting.

Usually the symptoms are a result of studying for longer hours, or not taking break in between or studying in bad light. 

According to statistics, approx. one in five children needs spectacles for sight correction. Hence, it is important to note that if the eye strain persists, then you should take your child for a complete eye check-up to rule out any refractive errors or any other eye disorder.

But if your child is using computer or tablets for study purpose then make sure their eye problem could also be linked to computer vision syndrome (CVS) or digital eye strain. This is the condition in which individuals experience eye discomfort and vision problems when viewing digital screens for extended periods. The level of discomfort appears to increase with the amount of digital screen used. 

In such a scenario, adjusting the display settings, like brightness, text size and contrast, etc of your digital screen can help to reduce eye strain and fatigue. 
Another important point for students to remember while using computer is to "blink" often as it moistens your eyes and prevents dryness and irritation. When working at a computer, people blink less frequently than what they normally do.  

To reduce the risk of dry eyes during computer use, try this exercise: Every 20 minutes, blink 10 times by closing your eyes as if falling asleep (very slowly). This will help rewet your eyes.
Also, to further reduce the risk for CVS and neck, back and shoulder pain, take frequent breaks in between work. 

Here are a few tips for eye care during exams

1. It is advisable to wear the glasses prescribed when studying, especially while working on digital screens to avoid strain and headache.

2. If you are using contact lenses, do not use them for more than 12 – 14 hours/day.
3. Follow the 20-20-20 rule during long hours of study. After every 20 minutes, look out of the window for about 20 seconds, at an object which is about 20 feet away. This helps to relax your eyes and relieve eyestrain. 

4. Avoid watching TV and playing games on your mobile or ipad in break time so as to avoid added stress on your eyes. 

5. It is advisable to keep the reading material at a distance and study in a well-lit room. You should not slouch over the table/ or read in awkward positions. This might lead to neck pain and headache.

6. Lubricant eye drops can be used for soothing eyes during the examination days but only in consultation with your eye doctor.

7. Whip up an eye mask. This can help in rejuvenating tired eyes. Take a small washcloth or towel and run it under cold water, wring it and put it over your eyes for 2-7 minutes. Ice cold compresses and tea bags are also beneficial in relieving puffy eye bags.  For a home-spa effect, add a few drops of lavender oil or rose water to your eye mask.

8. Try focusing on objects at different distances to reduce eyestrain. Focus on the tip of the pen and bring it closer to your nose at a steady pace. Do 5-10 repetitions. Focusing helps in improving vision and can also help a twitch caused by tired eyes. 

9. A good night's sleep and a healthy diet with adequate water intake are also equally important. 
Good luck for your exams!

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