Kaiser Permanente on eye care amid pandemic

Courtesy of Kaiser Permanente
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At a time when people are spending more time sheltering at home in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19, many are glued to their smartphones, tablets and laptops for work, school, information and entertainment.

Spending too much time staring at devices, however, can come with consequences, according to Kaiser Permanente officials in a news release. 

Too much screen time can cause eye strain that can lead to pain, discomfort and, for young children, may actually result in near-sightedness, according to Dr. John Shan, chief of optometry, Kaiser Permanente Panorama City Medical Center. 

“What’s important is to give your eyes some rest from prolonged staring at electronic devices,” he said in a statement. “Just like any other muscle in the body, if you overexert your eyes, you’re likely to experience a strain. When your eyes get strained, you’ll likely start to get headaches, blink less and eventually dry out your eyes. As a result, they may excessively tear, turn red and lead to discomfort and increase more risk for infection.”

That is why for adults and children alike, it’s important to take regular breaks from staring at devices such as laptops and smartphones, read the news release.

In order to protect one’s eyesight, Shan recommended abiding by the 20/20/20 rule. 

“Every 20 minutes, as a general rule of thumb, take a 20-second break, and look out 20 feet,” he explained. “We want you to look far away because then your eye muscle gets a chance to relax. It gives your eye muscle a little time to recoup and avoid problems later on.”

Shan cautioned that prolonged close-up staring at electronic devices can be especially harmful to young children ages 5-11. Because they are still developing, it can increase their risk of developing myopia, or nearsightedness, he said.

“Take good care of your eyes, and they will take good care of you,” Shan said. “Don’t take your vision for granted.” 

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