While eye drops provide a quick and easy fix for dry eyes, it is important to understand what exactly is making them feel dry in the first place, in order to find an effective treatment in the long-term.
The sharp glare of the screen
As a father of a 10-year old boy who loves playing video games, I’m careful about how much time he spends on them. If he had his way, he’d be on his smartphone from dusk until dawn. I love the fact that he can entertain himself for long periods of time and chat to his friends in their virtual worlds. However, it has recently come to my attention that gaming is taking a toll on his health. A few weeks ago, he started complaining about how his eyes often felt sore, dry and itchy.
Despite getting him some eye drops, they only provided short-term relief and the complaints would begin again the next day. I took it upon myself to do some research into the matter and discovered that he was suffering from digital eye strain (or DES). The various websites I consulted suggested that it is much better in the long-term to tackle the root of the problem, rather than simply soothing the effects with eye drops.
What is digital eye strain?
Digital eye strain (DES) is a common eye condition that is caused by spending too much time on smart devices. When the blue light emitted from the screen enters the eye, it scatters and puts strain on the eye’s ability to focus, causing it to fatigue. Even more, when we hold our smartphones at an angle that is higher than our eyes or simply stare at them for too long, we tend to open them wider and blink less, causing our eyes to dry out and become itchy. This explains why my son was complaining; he was suffering from DES.
Treating symptoms of digital eye strain
Eye drops are commonly used to treat dry eye symptoms of DES as they are relatively cheap and offer a quick fix by re-lubricating the eye. I used eye drops on my son for a while but soon realized that his condition was not improving. While eye drops were good at providing a quick fix, I realized the root of the problem stemmed from the vast amount of time he was spending playing games on his smartphone.
Prevent it, don’t fix it.
Upon researching the condition, I came across many tips on how to use screens in a healthier way. These include:
- Taking regular breaks every thirty minutes.
- Reducing screen time to less than two hours a day.
- Holding the device at a good distance (at least 30cm from face) and in a good position (20 to 30 degrees below eye level).
The only problem was; how would I convince my eight-year-old son to change his screen behaviors? He gets so much joy out of gaming that I would never want to ban it entirely, however he is resistant to rules and doesn’t like to be told what to do.
Fortunately,the plano app addresses this challenge. It runs in the background of his smartphone, and can monitor his screen behavior, sending reminders to both of us when he is using his device irresponsibly (e.g. for more than thirty minutes at a time). It also rewards him with points when he demonstrates good behavior (e.g. holding the screen at least 30cm from his face).
The points he earns can be used in the plano shop to request for fun, device-free activities for him to do, such as football lessons or tree-top climbing sessions. My son loved this points-reward function and instantly took measures to improve his screen behavior; he said, “it’s just like playing a video game, but in real life!”
While it is often tempting to treat digital eye strain with a quick fix (e.g. eye drops), addressing the root of the problem is a much more effective solution in the long-term. With the plano app, my son is able to enjoy playing games, but in a way that is healthy and responsible and free from the painful symptoms of DES.
For all Singaporean parents, if you download the plano app any time from now till 1 June 2020, you will enjoy a FREE annual subscription of the plano app! The annual subscription of the plano app comes with the entire list of functions of features that you may find here.
This initiative is our way of showing that as a Plano family, we stand with you in these unprecedented times!
Download plano here to enjoy the full suite of parental control features now unlocked for you!