Dr. Anton Barraquer joins the Centre
The new normality is accompanied by a rebound estimated at 15% of eye pathologies. The main cause is the increase in exposure to electronic devices and screens in the last three months. Ailments associated with decreased blink from staring at the screen – from 12 or 14 times per minute to one or two - and evaporation of the natural tear film from the eye produce visual computer syndrome and dry eye. To these conditions are added an increase in conjunctivitis and an increase in myopia.
Working from home and entertaining oneself on electronic devices are not the only reasons for an increase in eye diseases. Dr. Marta Mármol, an ophthalmologist at the Barraquer Ophthalmology Center, points out that negative stress caused over the last few months is also the reason for new clinical symptoms.
“Society has faced a completely new situation because of the coronavirus. Fear of the Covid-19 contagion, anxiety during confinement, tension and concern for sick friends and family, the economic problems derived from the stoppage of activity... Some circumstances that have generated stress and uncertainty in a large part of the Spanish population”, says Mármol.
The new normality is accompanied by a rebound estimated at 15% of eye pathologies
Eye manifestations vary
“Stress is a natural and unconscious response of our body to challenging situations. This response is necessary and positive in order to react and adapt to the changes in life. However, when we perceive one of these situations as very threatening, when an event occurs that makes us think that it is going to put our well-being at risk or when stress becomes chronic, then it can negatively impact our health. The internal mechanisms that are put in place affect practically our entire organism; including of course the eyes”.
Depending on the level of stress suffered, its duration of time and the characteristics of each individual, the eye manifestations vary. The most frequent and important are: myokymia, tremors or spasms around the eyelids or "tics"; blepharitis, eyelid inflammation; central serous choroidopathy, affectation of the macula, which is the most important area of the retina; or even in the most severe cases it can lead to a loss of vision.
Since, lifting of the lockdown, the situation has not drastically improved. "We continue in a pandemic and living situations of change and adaptation, we even call this new period 'the new normality'. On the other hand, we are still immersed in a dynamic of exhaustive use of screens and many times the environmental conditions in which we work are still not optimal due to the lack of natural light, dry environments or lack of hydration.”
For this reason, this specialist from the Barraquer Ophthalmology Center recalls that it is more important than ever to take care of our eye health. "We recommend having a full eye check up with a specialist and implement, as a routing, two simple eye health and hygiene rules."
Never rub your eyes. Our hands carry dirt and we can introduce undesirable elements into the eyes, or even cause deformations in the cornea by scratching us. This warning is more valid than ever since “our eyes are an important source of COVID-19 contagion and an unprotected area on many occasions.” If you inadvertently touch your eyes, it is advisable to wash them thoroughly with saline or artificial tears without preservatives to try to eliminate the presence of viruses as much as possible.
Rest your eyes for 5 minutes per hour you spend on the computer; force yourself to blink; use artificial tears; and try to work in a well-lit room and in an atmosphere that is not overly dry.