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Love your eyes at work

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World Sight Day

Jakarta, IO – The eyes are windows to the world. They are necessary for us to function properly in daily living, even though the hard of seeing and the blind can still compensate for the troubles that lack of sight cause them. Therefore, it is not surprising that we commemorate World Sight Day on the second Thursday of October every year. This year, the theme “Love Your Eyes at Work” is meant to remind us that we need to preserve the health and functioning of our eyes if we want to maintain our productivity at work. 

According to the WHO, 2.2 billion people across the globe suffer from eye problems, 50% of which are preventable and/or treatable. According to a recent Rapid Assessment of Avoidable Blindness (RAAB), 3 out of every 100 Indonesian citizens aged 50 and up, or 1.6 million people, suffer from blindness, with cataract being the primary cause of the condition. According to Statistics Indonesia, at least half of the 183.63 million people working in both formal and informal sectors in our country risk having eye problems. 

“The eyes are an extremely important component of our productivity because we use them to access 83% of the information available in the world around us, and only use the other senses 17% of the time. We at Perdami admit that eye health is a less ‘sexy’ issue to deal with stunting, for example, which makes all lines of policymaking ready to get involved to mitigate it – even though according to many studies, people with eye problems are vulnerable to decreased or even no productivity, which will turn them into a burden for their families. We want people to be more aware that no matter where they are, no matter what work they do, prioritizing and protecting eye health at work is crucial,” declared Dr. dr. Tilaksana Nugroho, Sp.M(K) MKes, FISCM, Vice Chairman of the Indonesian Ophthalmologist Association (Perdami) and eye consultant practicing at JEC Candi, Semarang, in a media meet held in Jakarta, Tuesday (10/10/2023). 

Computer Vision Syndrome 

Eye health is extremely important. With clear and optimum vision, we can maintain productivity and health in the workplace. However, we need to be wary of rapid strides in working technology in the past 20 years, which include the use of computers at practically all levels of the workplace and in the home. This makes life much easier, increases productivity by many folds…and may strongly affect eye health negatively. 

Dr. dr. Antonia Kartika, Sp.M(K), M.Kes.
Dr. dr. Antonia Kartika, Sp.M(K), M.Kes. (Source: CICENDO EYE HOSPITAL)

“Lifestyle changes give rise to the creation of cutting-edge technologies that support worker performance and practical communications. This is even worsened with the fact that on average, Indonesian citizens work excessive hours. According to a Statistics Indonesia 2022 study, the average national work duration is 40.02 hours a week, increasing from the previous average of 38 hours a week. The accumulation of all these conditions causes asthenopia (eye exhaustion), computer vision syndrome, eye refraction disorder, and dry eye disease,” Dr. Tilaksana said. 

During the same event, Dr. dr. Antonia Kartika, Sp.M(K), MKes, President Director of the National Eye Center at Cicendo Hospital Bandung, declared that the most common sight problem found in workers is digital eye strain, also called the “computer vision syndrome” by the American Optometric Association. It is a group of eye and sight symptoms caused by intense, prolonged, excessive close view of computer, tablet, and smartphone screens. 

“80% of patients complain of neck pains, shoulder pains, and headaches because of extra-ocular mechanism. This means that the eye has to strain because of incorrect placement of computer screen, unergonomic seating position, and awkward angle of viewing in relation with the computer screen. The other set of common problems involves the ocular surface : the surface of the eye waters out a lot, it feels dry or burning, or there is a sense of something stuck in the eye; and the accommodation mechanism problems, which include the eyes growing dim, presbyopia (when the eyes find it hard to see things that are close by, such as when reading or sewing), or a slowing down in the process of shifting the focus of sight, which causes double vision,” Dr. Antonia stated. 

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Other than personal factors, digital eye strain risk is increased by environmental factors such as bad lighting, imbalance between the internal lighting of the gadget screen and ambient lighting, bad resolution and contrast of a gadget screen, and the glare of the display screen. In a recent Japanese study, 67% of digital eye strain patients suffer from bad sleep quality relating to the short light waves generated by gadget screens, which reduces the level of melatonin, the hormone regulating sleep quality, secreted by the brain at night. 

Finally, Dr. Tilaksana emphatically reminds us that everyone will suffer from eye problems at a certain age in their lives. Therefore, we are all responsible for ensuring that eye care is inclusive and easily accessible and affordable to everyone everywhere, as 60% of sight problems are preventable when detected earlier. To prevent exhaustion of the eyes, implement the “20-20-20” method: take a 20-second break by looking at an object located 20 feet away for 20 seconds. (est)

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