Lead a healthy lifestyle, do everything in moderation and seek professional help when required. Those are the three key messages stressed by ophthalmologist Dr Narendran Muthukrishnan as he urged adults and children to go easy on screen time.
“Without doubt, handheld devices these days are more friendly to the eyes, some automatically dim based on the surroundings while others offer the ‘reading mode’. But the thing about handheld devices is that you just keep on going and due to the light, your brain is stimulated. Thus you will find yourself tossing and turning, unable to sleep immediately after,” said Dr Narendran.
“Smart phones have been around for the past 15 years so the studies are limited. I’m not saying that we should ditch our phones but let’s limit our time on it where possible.”
He pointed out eating right and sweating it out helped with one’s vision.
“Some people will ask if they should eat a particular drug, herbal or otherwise, or apply a certain oil. My answer to that is just eat healthy and you will have all the nutrients and vitamins you need. Only use health ministry-approved eyedrops if your eyes are tired or feel dry or seek medical help if the irritation continues.”
He recalled seeing a patient who was screaming in pain, saying he felt like someone was hitting nails into his eyes.
“And immediately I knew he was a welder. Many of them tend to take their eyesight for granted and not wear protective glasses when welding, claiming it’s just a two-minute job, and continuing to disregard safety. But they will soon realise the consequences and by then, it causes so much pain … like something boring into their eyes.
“Protect your eyes. The minute you feel there is something not right with your vision, reach out to the nearest ophthalmologist.
“Don’t take your eyes for granted by seeking medical help only when things go really wrong.”
Dr Narendran was speaking to members of the National Press Club (NPC) during the Health Screening Programme by Manipal Hospitals Klang at the clubhouse at Jalan Tangsi on Saturday. He was joined by a team of nurses and representatives from the hospital who conducted several checks for the members, including blood sugar testing, uric acid test, cholesterol test, body mass index (BMI) and eye examination.
Also present were ophthalmologist Dr Manoharan Shunmugam, who is also the secretary of the Malaysian Society of Ophthalmology, and NPC president Datuk Ahirudin Attan.
Dr Manoharan, in his talk, reminded those present about the 20-20-20 rule.
“It simply means to let your eyes take a break after 20 minutes by looking at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
“The sitting position is equally important while the screen of your monitor should be between 15 and 30 degrees from the horizontal line of your eyesight looking straight ahead.”
He also reminded parents to limit the time their children spent looking at the screen, especially handheld devices.
“We often hear about this yet it is so common to see children and even adults hooked on a tablet or phone throughout dinner. Some schools believe it is modern to introduce tablets but I strongly believe that everything must be in moderation and the same goes to the time our children spend on the screen.
“I had a patient who believed his child was hyperactive but when I tested the child’s eyes, it turned out he had issues with his vision but it wasn’t addressed and that irritated him, causing him to behave in a certain way. When we got his vision fixed, he immediately became calm and composed.”
He urged parents to get their children’s eyes checked annually.
“It’s the same with adults. It’s best to get your eyesight checked regularly and not only seek help when it’s too late.”