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Precautions against dry eye disease for those who are always glued to the screen

Sempre incollati davanti agli schermi? Le precauzioni contro la malattia dell’occhio secco

According to UNESCO, over 1 billion students worldwide at home due to the closure of schools caused by the global pandemic COVID-191. Consequently, a large percentage of these pupils follow the distance lessons via the web.

Recent research indicates that children, between 9 and 12 years old, already spent 4 hours a day in front of screens and computers, with a peak between the largest, between 13 and 18 years, of 7 hours a day spent in front to devices, with the exception of time frames dedicated to school purposes.

Today, with schools and universities closed during this unprecedented global health emergency, the exposure time on the screens has multiplied exponentially and smart-schooling activities have become mandatory for the continuation of school and university teaching.

Experts from the American Scientific Society TFOS (Tear Film & Ocular Surface Society) have made a short video, intended for students and their parents in isolation, to teach them to take breaks from watching in front of the screens and rest their eyes with the rule 20-20-20.

As Prof. Stefano Barabino, head of the Ocular Surface and Dry Eye Center of L. Sacco Hospital in Milan, states: Prolonged exposure to digital screens causes a faster evaporation of the tear film, that thin layer of liquid that covers the ocular surface. The reason lies in the poor or incomplete blinking, blink in English: the eyes are squeezed less frequently and this slows the spread of the tear film on the surface of the eye with consequences ranging from fatigue to burning, from irritation to pain. If the stimulus persists for a long time this causes an inflammation that can become chronic. Studies have shown that viewing in front of digital screens causes a blinking rate decrease of 40%.

Blinking serves to keep the tear film intact, a thin layer of water and lipids (fats) on the surface of the eye that makes us see clearly and protects us from foreign bodies and irritants. Staring at screens for prolonged periods of time means blinking less frequently and increasing the risk of developing symptoms of dry eye disease.

Just think that every child under 18 accesses social media countless times a day and even the video content that was previously used on television can now be seen on smartphone screens continues Barabino This means a huge amount of near vision that leads to eye fatigue and vision disturbances of varying degrees that can impact physical, social and emotional development.

Dry eye disease is increasingly a disorder that we observe in the very young population and no longer the prerogative of the elderly or women only in the period following the menopause, deepened Amy Gallant Sullivan, TFOS Executive Director.

Too often dismissed as mild and transient ailment, dry eye management has been relegated in the past to "series b" disorder and patients left on the lookout for remedies that merely relieve symptoms. Also thanks to two fundamental documents created by TFOS, the DEWS I and II, and recognized worldwide, the way in which the disease is diagnosed and managed has radically changed.

Experts recommend following the rule 20/20/20:

Every 20 minutes of near vision fix a point 20 feet away (6,096 meters) for at least 20 seconds. Every 20 minutes close your eyelids and then squeeze them lightly for 2 seconds doing a blink.

This simple action restores the tear film, reactivates distance vision and rests the eyes!

It is important to take some time to look out of a window or to simply close your eyes and give them some rest.

What is dry eye

Dry eye disease affects millions of people around the world and a major cause of an eye examination. This symptomatic disease characterized by an unstable and more concentrated tear film (called hyperosmolar), which leads to an increase in inflammation with consequent damage to the structures and nerves of the eyes.

w Moderate to severe dry eyes can affect quality of life and may be associated with eye pain, limitations in performing daily activities (e.g. reading, driving, using digital devices), sleep deprivation, reduced energy general poor health and often depression.