By Bernice Phua Rui Yi, Optometrist, International Eye Cataract Retina Centre, Singapore

Based on a study done by Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC) in 2015, 45% of respondents assumed that being able to see well equates to having healthy eyes. Additionally, 9 in 10 felt there was no need for regular eye examinations if they were still seeing fine.

Dr Joy Chan, Medical Director and Senior Consultant Ophthalmologist at International Eye Cataract Retina Centre in Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre and Farrer Park Medical Centre, conducted an educational eye health talk at Lockton (Singapore) on 3 August 2018 where she shared tips on preserving and protecting vision. The talk was part of an effort to raise awareness among the community on common eye conditions and the importance of regular eye examinations which could pick up potentially sight-threatening diseases.

Dr Chan addressed commonly asked questions such as computer vision syndrome, myopia in children, floaters, presbyopia and cataract during the hour-long talk. She also highlighted that having good vision does not equate to having healthy eyes as many conditions do not cause visual symptoms in its early stages.

Computer vision syndrome, also known as digital eye strain, refers to a category of visual symptoms resulting from the prolonged use of digital devices. Some of these symptoms include eye strain, blurry vision, dry eye as well as neck and shoulder ache. Dr Chan shared the “Rule of 20s”. For every 20 minutes of near work, one is advised to focus on an object at 20 feet (6 metres) for 20 seconds to give their eyes a break and reduce eye strain. Dr Chan also gave practical tips applicable for the staff like positioning their computer monitor at a viewing distance of 40 cm slightly below eye level.

As we may or may not be aware, our electronic devices emit blue light. Blue light falls within the range of visible light that is a part of the electromagnetic spectrum. While some amount of blue light is beneficial, excessive exposure can be harmful to the extent of inducing phototoxic retinal damage. However, Dr Chan reassured the attendees that such extent are usually rare as even extreme viewing conditions does not approach safety limits that could  eventually induce such damage. Additionally, Dr Chan encouraged everyone to adopt a good habit of ultraviolet (UV) light protection with protective eye wear such as sunglasses as UV light exposure can be more harmful than blue light exposure.

The talk was well-received by the staff who asked many questions during the question-and-answer session.