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By Dr. Mohsina Mekhri
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought in its wake a burgeoning epidemic of digital eye strain. Digital eye strain can affect anyone with prolonged exposure to screens like smartphones, computers, TV, tablets and video games. Increased screen time has always been a cause for concern among parents and this worry has been intensified of late due to online schooling. Although parents were relieved that classes could continue online, their relief was short-lived as children started to complain of headaches, eye pain and discomfort due to increased screen time. Apart from the usage of devices for online classes, homework and assignments, children increasingly have no choice but to turn to the online platform for socialising with friends and entertainment. This results in screen time of more than 7-8 hours every day and its consequence-digital eye strain.
The commonly reported symptoms among children who suffer from digital eye strain are eye fatigue, eye discomfort, headaches, dry eyes, blurred vision and watering. Prolonged near work and reduced time spent outdoors has also resulted in the new onset of myopia (short-sightedness) and faster progression of myopia in young children.
With schools opting to adopt a hybrid model for the safety of children, prolonged screen time will continue to affect the eye health of students. Therefore, to minimise the adverse effects of increased screen time, it is important to take measures to manage eye strain at home.
As a first step, evaluate your child's virtual study environment and make adjustments if needed.
1. Distance between the eyes and the screen: Make sure the computer screen is about 1.5 to 2 feet or an arm's length away from where your child is seated. Adjust the device so that the top of the screen is at or slightly below eye level. This will ensure that your child is not tilting his/her neck to view the screen.
2. Adjust the light of the surroundings: The room should be well lit. There should not be too much difference between screen brightness and room lighting. Advise your child to avoid using electronic gadgets in the dark. Ensure there is no glare from the screen due to the reflection of light from a window or a light source in the room.
3. Adjust screen brightness: Parents should ensure that the brightness of the screen is optimal (not lighter or darker than the surroundings) and increase the contrast for better viewing. This will also avoid unnecessary strain.
To minimise the adverse effects of increased screen time, it is important to take measures to manage eye strain at home. | Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash
4. Increase font size: Instead of straining to focus when the font size or the object is not visible, it is advisable to zoom the page and read.
5. Use colour settings: The blue light emitted by the screen can hamper your child's sleep especially when the device is used close to bedtime. Decreasing evening screen time and setting devices to night mode may help prevent sleep disruption.
6. Bigger screens are better-: For online classes, use laptops or desktops instead of smartphones as much as possible. For entertainment, watching on a TV screen or casting from the smartphone onto the TV is a better option to prevent eye strain.
Practising good eye habits and eye exercises can also prevent eye strain.
1. Do not look at the screen continuously; Follow the 20-20-20 rule: Our eye muscles relax when we look at objects far away and work hard to focus at a near distance when we are continuously working on a screen. So, reminding your child to take a 20-second break every 20 minutes while using screens will help. They can close their eyes for 20 seconds or look outside their window for a distance of 20 feet or more. Short frequent breaks will help prevent eye strain.
2. Remember to blink while using devices: Blinking keeps the eye surface lubricated with tears. However, we tend to blink less than half as often while using screens. This can make eyes feel dry, heavy, tired, itchy or irritated. Consciously remembering to blink can prevent dryness and eye irritation. Lubricating eye drops can provide relief and can be used when needed as advised by your eye doctor.
Taking a 20-second break every 20 minutes while using screens will help. | Photo by Wesley Tingey on Unsplash
3. Ensure off-screen activity: Spend time away from the screen after online classes to give enough rest to the eyes. Engage kids in activities like gardening, cycling, indoor games etc.
4. Regular eye checks are a must to detect if there is an eye number and need for glasses. Wearing the correct prescription glasses helps in preventing eye strain.
Though it is recommended to avoid prolonged exposure of eyes to screens, however, when it becomes unavoidable the next best thing is to fix the surroundings and make smart use of your devices to minimize the stress and ill effects of screen time. Following the above steps may help to minimise eye strain in children while using screens. Healthy diet, hydration and getting adequate rest are a must to ensure overall good health including eye health.
(Article originally publishd on IANSlife) (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: effective, measures, prevent, eye-strain, screen, online classes, children
The National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), which confirmed the first two cases of the Omicron variant in Bengaluru on Thursday, is continuously monitoring the situation in four cities - Bengaluru, Hyderabad, New Delhi, and Pune. The NCBS is a part of a consortium of national laboratories performing genomic surveillance across four city clusters. The consortium was established four months ago with support from The Rockefeller Foundation's Pandemic Prevention Institute, and is led by the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) in Hyderabad.
Dr Rakesh Mishra at the CCMB said on Friday that the consortium is continuously monitoring the situation in all the four cities and has upscaled its efforts to sequence as many samples as possible Apart from the CCMB and the NCBS, the consortium includes CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology - IGIB in New Delhi and the Pune Knowledge Cluster, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Pune, and CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory in Pune.
The first case of the Omicron variant was detected in South Africa and reported to the World Health Organization on November 24. | Unsplash
The consortium is focused on upscaling genomic surveillance as part of national efforts led by the INSACOG - Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium - to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic. The consortium intensified its sequencing efforts after the World Health Organisation announced Omicron as a Variant of Concern. Such an intensified effort enabled the Bengaluru team at the NCBS, a member laboratory of INSACOG, in collaboration with Strand Life Sciences and the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), to detect, rapidly sequence and verify the existence of the omicron variant in samples from two Covid-19 infected individuals.
They hope this will aid in a rapid response to contain the spread of variants of concern. Prof Satyajit Mayor from the NCBS conveyed the information to local and national authorities, and the Indian government released a statement on December 2, all within four days of receiving the samples. Both SARS-CoV-2 genomes have also been uploaded to the global repository for SARS-CoV-2 sequences, GISAID, so that they can be publicly available to the scientific community, the NCBS said. (IANS/ MBI)
(Keywords: Hyderabad, New Delhi, Pune, Bengaluru, The National Centre for Biological Sciences, Situation, NCBS, Omicron)
Never-before-seen concerts by renowned performers such as the Berklee Indian Ensemble and Women of the World, a collection of inventive artists from throughout the world, are among the highlights of The Museum of Art & Photography (MAP) Bengaluru's 'Art is Life: SoundFrames', a three-day digital festival in collaboration with Berklee College of Music.
MAP, is one of India's leading private museums dedicated to making art and culture accessible to a wide range of people. Sound of the City, a sonic public engagement in which composers and producers create music influenced by the sounds of cities across India (Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, and Delhi), is another collaboration between the two institutions. Songwriting, music therapy, and vocals are just a few of the immersive programmes offered as part of the cooperation event between MAP and Berklee.
The festival will take place from December 3-5, 2021, and will also provide a variety of music-related educational and immersive programmes. | Photo by Simon Noh on Unsplash
The festival will take place from December 3-5, 2021, and will also provide a variety of music-related educational and immersive programmes, some of which are co-sponsored by the Indian Music Experience (IME) museum. Art is Life: SoundFrames celebrates music and its power to bring people together as part of MAP's aim to bring art to the heart of the community and develop bridges between varied art forms and audiences. Over 25 events inspired by music will be presented over the course of three days, including concerts, performances, panel discussions, film screenings, educational workshops, and exhibitions.
More than 65 artists from India and around the world will perform at the festival, including SubraMania's Ambi and Bindu Subramaniam, Grammy-winner Ricky Kej, musical talents from IndianRaga, young Hindustani maestro Pandit Sanjeev Abhyankar, and the Durbari Qawwals of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya Dargah." Register for the online festival at www.artislife.events. (IANS/ MBI)
(Keywords: art and culture, private museums, MAP, Life: SoundFrames, Music, India)
The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Friday warned that countries in the Asia-Pacific region need to strengthen healthcare services and focus on vaccinating their people, as the Omicron variant spreads globally and enters new regions.
In a virtual briefing, Takeshi Kasai, WHO regional director for the western Pacific, said that it is clear that this pandemic is far from over.
"I know that people are worried about Omicron. I understand. My message to you today is that we can adapt the way we manage this virus to better cope w/ future surges and reduce their health, social and economic impact," he said.
"We can adapt, so that #COVID19 has less impact on our lives in 2022, and we can start to regain - and hopefully retain - a sense of normality," he added.
Omicron cases have now been reported in India, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea, and new cases are being documented with each passing hour.
"People should not only rely on border measures. What is most important is to prepare for these variants with potential high transmissibility. So far the information available suggests we don't have to change our approach," he said during the virtual media briefing.
South Korea on Friday decided to tighten anti-virus measures from next week amid a surging number of Covid-19 cases and an emerging worry about the potentially more transmissible Omicron variant.
In India, after detection of the first two cases of Omicron infection in Bengaluru, the Karnataka Health department is now worried over 10 South African nationals, who have gone untraceable in Bengaluru.
A total of 10 persons suspected to be infected with Omicron Covid variant have been admitted to Delhi's Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Hospital (LNJP).
The new super-mutant Omicron variant of Covid-19 can increase risk of reinfection by three times as compared to other variants of concern such as Beta and Delta, according to a preliminary study by South African researchers.
Keywords: World, Healthcare, Omicron, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Asia-Pacific region.