Dr Rajesh Rajpal discusses use of screens and eye problems amid pandemic



The increased use of the screen in the midst of the pandemic could have a dramatic impact on the eyes, which is why assessment by an eye care professional is important for maintaining eye health, said Raj Rajpal, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Global Head of Clinical Medical Affairs, Johnson & Johnson Vision.


The use of screens having increased considerably in recent years, what impact does this have on the eye?

Absolutely, we all find ourselves on screens, whether it’s in a meeting these days, or whether it’s using tablets, or certainly our phones. And there are several things that happen from that. From the perspective of patients who blink less, there is greater dryness.

Patients notice that other symptoms like allergies are more often troublesome when we look at a screen. And part of that is, we just don’t get the chance to really rest our eyes that much.

From a cataract perspective, again, this points to the need for greater clarity. And so, while this cataract has progressed at the same rate, if we weren’t doing so much on our screens and up close, we might not have noticed it so much. So, patients all tend to notice it more, but yet we still need our distance vision, we still need all fields of vision.

This is why it is certainly important to have an evaluation by your eye care professional so that you can make sure that you are not missing out on other causes of reduced vision that we might attribute to the mere stress of looking at a. screen or staring at our tablets or phones all day.

As the pandemic begins to abate, are people coming in and reporting more eye problems?

Even in fact during the pandemic, patients continued to enter. And yes, they certainly noticed more difficulty with some of the things we just talked about, which, again, has to do with staring at a screen often for a continuous period of time.

So again, it would be drought, it would be allergies, it would just be fatigue or general fatigue. It is often related to the fact that the vision is not so clear. And so I think again, step number one is to make sure you have an ophthalmologist taking a look, and yes, patients now come frequently with symptoms like that. And we look for all medical situations like cataracts, we look for glaucoma, we look for all the other causes.

One of the most common things people have found is that even when they wear masks and then glasses, their glasses become cloudier or foggy. And it also changes the way patients want to function. Sometimes they want to use contact lenses more frequently, otherwise they may consider laser surgery more frequently.

Then the same thing happens at the time of cataract surgery as we now have options when doing cataract surgery for specialized lens implants which can reduce the need for glasses. When patients decide to have cataract surgery, they often find it beneficial to choose these types of lens implants.

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