By Ira Pablo
We can’t deny the fact that the Philippines is a social media-crazy country. Having an internet or phone hiatus is not part of our lifestyle, but more of a sacrifice or temptation hindering us from something we need to do—like preparing for a job interview or finishing that monthly sales report. Staying online 24/7 is a must. It’s not surprising then that the “Digital in 2017 Global Overview” report said an average Filipino spends nine hours on the internet everyday. (Come to think of it, it’s more than the amount of sleep some of us get!)
Because we’re often glued to our phones and laptops watching Buzzfeed videos, we don’t notice that we blink our eyes less, making us prone to the Dry Eye Syndrome. Also called dry eye disease, dry eyes or DES, its increasing worldwide and is now an important public health problem. Among the reasons behind its rapid rise is prolonged Visual Display Terminal (VDT) exposure. The lack of eye lubrication we get from tears consequently increases tear evaporation whenever our eyes are fixed on devices.
“It is a welcome development that more Filipinos now have Internet access. Digital connectivity brings many socio-economic benefits such as improved communication, knowledge dissemination, and economic opportunities, among others. However, spending too much time online also has its drawbacks,” said Ms. Cheryl Maley, President and Managing Director of Novartis Healthcare Philippines in the report. She and Dr. Richard L. Nepomuceno, together with Systane Ultra Lubricating Eyedrops, led a talk about DES last November 8 at the Ludo BoardGame Bar and Bistro in Makati City.
Filipinos are online much more than any of the other 29 countries in Asia Pacific, the Middle East, North America, and Europe, Maley added.
From what we've learned from the talk, having DES means either being unable to produce the tears our eyes need or producing poor-quality tears. As a result, we may experience a stinging or burning sensation. So, the next time you feel like lower your phone or laptop brightness because of eye irritation, you might want to put the device down altogether. Other important symptoms to watch out for include, light sensitivity, eye redness, the feeling of having something in your eyes, blurred and watery eyes, having a hard time wearing contact lenses, and having a hard time navigating traffic at night.
So, how do we prevent DES when eliminating internet and social media is out of the question? First, we follow the “20-20-20 rule," called such to easily remember. For 20-20 vision, every 20 minutes, give your eyes a break from screens. Look at something 20 feet away. Then stare at it for 20 seconds. Second, Dr. Nepomuceno recommends eyedrops to hydrate dry and keep moisture in our eyes.
We love living in this day and age of internet and social media. But we’ll love it even more if it kept ourselves (and especially our eyes) healthy and DES free!
ALSO READ: In Focus: Joey De Leon's Son Jako Talks His Journey From Content Creation To Vlogging
Photographs courtesy of Novartis Philippines