Computer Vision Syndrome is a debilitating disease, says eye surgeon

PETALING JAYA - Technology can do a lot of good but spending hours in front of computers, smart phones, tablets and the television is destroying our eyesight, affecting children most of all.

"Prolonged used of these devices can lead to a condition called Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS)," said Dr Kenneth Fong Choong Sian, consultant ophthalmologist and vitreoretinal surgeon at Sunway Medical Centre in an exclusive interview with The Star Online.

"This happens when individuals stare at a device or screen for a prolonged period. Some symptoms of CVS include back and neck aches because of poor posture, blurred vision, headaches, eyestrain, irritated eyes, fatigue, and dizziness."

Alamingly CVS affects the young most of all.

"For children, prolonged use of their near-vision to look at devices or computer screens may cause myopia (short sightedness). If they are already myopic, this can worsen their myopia," he said.

"Not only will the exposure to devices cause poor eyesight for children, but they may also suffer from headaches and migraines from the constant adjusting their eyes have to do when looking at the screen."

Dr Fong also cites poor social skills and bad table manners as other bad side-effects of technology that has hold on children even in pre-school years.

"Children playing these devices can be so engrossed playing them that they do not learn how to interact with other children or adults," he said.

"This can be seen especially in restaurants where parents use these devices to keep their children "quiet" so that they can have a peaceful dinner,"

"Surely this will lead to a generation of spoilt little emperors that will not be good for our society," he added.

To improve one's eyesight, Dr Fong suggests that we cut down the time spent on these devices.

"Every one hour, take a 10 minute break from the computer screen and try to look outside a window and focus on something far away. This will relax your eyes," he advised.

Dr Fong advised that parents restrict children to not more than 30 minutes a day on these devices and that they should instead spend more time playing outdoors.

"Studies show that regular outdoor activity is not only good for our children's health but also can prevent myopia," said Dr Fong.

However, if you have to use your devices Dr Fong explained that there's a right way to do so.

"Make sure that you are seated comfortably and the device is not held too close to your eyes (not less than 40cm).

Don't look down with your neck flexed. Ideally, your back and neck should both be straight and your eyes looking downward at an angle of about 10 degrees. This will prevent neck and back ache," he added.