Macular Degeneration Protection While Remote Learning or Working

Macular Degeneration Protection While Remote Learning or Working

COVID-19 has created a paradigm shift on so many levels it can be hard to keep up with the constant changes implemented on a daily basis. This has been particularly challenging for those required to work or learn via remote access. 

Millions of people have been forced to stay home to mitigate the spread of this deadly disease with many still able to continue their career or schooling online. This has created a universal change to daily norms by reducing the stress of commuting, crowded streets, packed offices and classrooms for the ability to be productive while still wearing pajamas. 

Although it may not be optimal for some, remote learning or working is a reality which may continue well into the future, even after a COVID-19 cure is discovered. As a result, sitting in front of pulsing blue computer light all day, more so than in an office or educational setting, could negatively affect vision and lead to a higher risk for developing macular degeneration. 

Macular degeneration protection while remote learning or working is an essential concern which should be addressed now before your eyes needlessly suffer.

Blue Light Data

Ever since humans have plugged-in, science has been tracking the various aspects of how digital exposure affects vision. 

According to an article posted by All About Vision, 

“…many eye care providers are concerned that the added blue light exposure from computer screens, smartphones and other digital devices might increase a person’s risk of macular degeneration later in life.”

The article continues, citing digital eye strain,

“Because blue light scatters more easily than other visible light, it is not as easily focused. When you’re looking at computer screens and other digital devices that emit significant amounts of blue light, this unfocused visual “noise” reduces contrast and can contribute to digital eye strain [DES].”

Another study as reported by Forbes magazine stated, 

“…new research from the University of Toledo demonstrates that when blue light hits a molecule called retinal, it triggers a cascade of chemical reactions that could be toxic to cells in the retina of the eye…The researchers suggest that progressive destruction of light-detecting cells in the eyes due to prolonged exposure to blue light could therefore contribute to age-related macular degeneration, which is a leading cause of blindness. ”

These studies and many more like them are prime examples of scientific warnings that, if heeded, can help you protect your future vision. By making some simple changes, these risks could be significantly diminished.

Protect Kids

Adult eyes are stronger and able to handle the many years of wear and tear however children’s eyes are still developing. Even though a young body can be more resilient to health compromises, like bouncing back from muscle pulls and other physical strain, vision is a more delicate process. 

A New York Times article revealed that there is an increase in juvenile vision problems, stating, 

“While research doesn’t suggest a clear link between screen usage and myopia in children, the condition, commonly referred to as nearsightedness, is on the rise. Data from the American Optometric Association revealed that one in four parents had a child with myopia in 2018, an increase of 25 percent from just 40 years ago.”

It is recommended that children follow the same sight saving protocols as adults for future macular degeneration protection while remote learning or working.

Vision Saving Guidelines 

Following specific guidelines to avoid eye strain for adults and children alike, could be the key to reducing a host of peripheral and direct symptoms associated with continued remote exposure.  

Symptoms of overexposure during remote access include: 

  • Headaches
  • Mood swings
  • Sleeplessness
  • Eye strain
  • Excessive blinking
  • Dry eyes
  • Sight weakness

These are some guidelines that may help:

20/20/20 – Dr. Millicent Knight, an optometrist and spokesperson for the Global Myopia Awareness Coalition recommends the 20/20/20 approach: “Every 20 minutes you need to look up at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.” This 20/20/20 approach allows the eye to return to a normal position, reducing eye stress and increasing natural lubrication.

Blink Check – Dr. David Guyton, a professor of pediatric ophthalmology at Johns Hopkins University and a pediatric ophthalmologist is reported as explaining to the NY Times, “when people read, particularly on digital devices, “their blink rate decreases down to 5 to 10 times per minute,” which can lead to dry eyes. Though he said children’s eyes don’t tend to dry out as much as adults’, it’s important for caregivers to take note of whether their child is blinking regularly when looking at a screen.”

Proper Tech – Many children and adults are wedded to their handheld digital device, namely a smartphone. However, this small screen and compromised atmospheres it is often used in (ie: darkness, sunlight, fluorescent overhead bulbs) can all play a role in negatively affecting healthy vision. Using proper technology is essential in protecting vision. This means larger desktop or laptop screens, screen filters, and adjustable brightness (to name a few) that can accommodate a more acceptable digital experience. It is important to note that people of lesser means are at more risk as they are forced to use subpar technology and compromise their eyesight. There may be local community programs available for eligible adults and children to receive more upgraded, proper technology.

Checkups – Not enough people consider a yearly ophthalmologist visit as important as a physical or dental visit. As a result there is a higher risk for vision decline and possibly the development of macular degeneration. With the prominent use of blue light emitting devices, a checkup is more important than ever, particularly if it involves children.

Remote learning or working may be the “new norm,” even after COVID-19 has been managed. Finding ways to adapt will take some time but eventually all will fall into place. If it requires extra steps to implement vision saving techniques to avoid a future of macular degeneration, cataracts, or glaucoma so be it. Overall, we will come out of this a healthier, stronger society using tools that will protect and support sight well into old age.