Doctors are seeing an uptick in problems linked to increases in screen time

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Symptoms such as severe headaches, blurred vision and even nausea after spending hours on a computer or cell phone are becoming more common. Doctors said, they are seeing an increase in people complaining about similar symptoms linked to excessive screen time since the pandemic started.

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Dr. Alan Wu said, it is called Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) and it is becoming much more common due to COVID-19.

The pandemic has forced the world to stay home — kids are distance learning and millions are still working virtually. Computers and cell phones have become a lifeline to the outside world.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green said, a lot of people have seen their screen time go from one hour and 30 minutes or two hours per day to eight or 10 hours per day because of the world that everyone is living in right now.

Wu said, that is taking a toll.

“This is causing a lot of headache and a lot of migraines. And people can get other associated symptoms such as nausea, vomiting…And we’re seeing more and more of that as the pandemic grows longer and longer.”

Additional symptoms include blurred or double vision, dry and itchy eyes and even neck and shoulder pain.

Wu said it can affect anyone from children to seniors.

“It’s not limited to any age group at all. We see it among little kids and we have seen it with elderly too because they are home reading Kindles and reading everything off the internet,” Wu explained.

A number of things can make it worse: lack of sleep, poor lighting, bad posture, how far the screen is from your face and an old eye prescription.

Wu added that some people may have it worse than others.

“If people have assignments, they need to finish their assignments on time, and they’re doing critical analytical thinking while they’re on the screen, they’re gonna be more prone to have these symptoms compared to people who are doing it for a leisurely pleasure…A lot of schools are doing online testing. So you can see people have to focus more on something for three hours without any break to finish the exam. And that causes a lot of strain too,” Wu said.

People with underlying conditions like diabetes, hypertension or eye problems are also more prone to CVS.

So how is it treated?

“Really the treatment is to limit your screen time,” said Wu.

Green said, giving your eyes ample time away from screens is necessary.

“They should first rest from their computer for two days, at least, to see if they can recoup some of the eye strain that goes on the optic nerve. And they should also, if it persists, see their eye doctor to make sure that they haven’t done any damage.,” Green explained.

If you can not totally unplug, resting your eyes at least 15 minutes after every two-hours on your device can help.

Wu said, a simple pair of blue light blocking glasses may help but advises seeing an eye doctor as soon as possible in case there are any unknown underlying issues.

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