Computers have become an integral part of everyone’s life. They have made things so much fast and simple but have brought with them new problems related to the eyes. These problems affect all those who spend a significant time working on the computers everyday.
However, these computer related eye problems are mostly due to our own wrong habits. I call this cluster of problems e-pain (which may mean electronic / eye pain) which is also called Computer Vision Syndrome.
What are the problems?
Pain and eye strain being so common among the computer users that it would be appropriate to call this cluster of computer related eye problems: e-Pain.
What causes these problems?
An understanding of what causes these symptoms can help us take appropriate preventive steps. It is important to know that computer monitors do not emit any harmful rays or radiations (monochrome or color). The causes of the trouble are:
Constantly gazing at a near distance (at the monitor)
Decreased rate of blinking
When we look at a near object both our eyes move towards each other (converge) to fixate at the target. Prolonged viewing of the monitor at close distance leads to fatigue of convergence and its weakness / insufficiency. This consequently leads to eye strain, pain and headache.
Decreased rate of blinking while working on computers leads to instability of the tear film of the eyes. This leads to feeling of dryness, irritation, redness and a reflex watering from the eyes.
What is the solution?
There is no single magic remedy for this problem. Following set of measures can be undertaken together to get relief:
Proper Visual Hygiene:
Monitor should be placed about 2-3 feet from the eyes (or at the farthest comfortable distance).
Do not gaze constantly at the monitor for long duration.
Take your eyes off the screen every 5-10 minutes. Every half an hour or so close your eyes for 1-2 minutes to give them rest.
Every hour or so take a 5 minutes break (go for a stroll or run some errand).
Make a conscious effort to blink more frequently.
Avoid sitting in front of an air conditioner facing its air draft while working on computer.
Regular eye exercise can help prevent the problems caused by working on computers or even heavy reading or writing work.
These exercises are advised for all computer professionals, students, office workers, etc.
Sit on a chair upright and look at a far off small object.
Then hold out a pen at level with your eyes at an arm’s length and look at its tip.
Gradually bring the pen close to your eyes to a point where you feel a mild strain on your eyes. The tip of the pen should remain clear and single in appearance. Hold the pen in this position for about half a minute and then again gradually take it back to an arms length. Hold it here again for about half a minute, and then again bring the pen close to your eyes.
Repeat above step 10 times and then again look the far off small object. Again repeat the whole sequence.
In the beginning this exercise should be done for 5-10 minutes just once a day in the morning at a time when you are fresh and rested. After one week it should be increased to twice daily and after two weeks thrice a day. Avoid doing the exercise when you are tired or are having pain in eyes or headache. In the initial period when you begin exercising the pain in the eyes and headache may increase, but this should not discourage you. As you continue the exercise you will gradually feel relief from the symptoms over 2-3 weeks.
Continue the exercise for 2 months to build good eye muscle strength and reserves power.
Lubricant Eye Drops
Lubricant eye drops instilled 3-4 times a day help in soothing the eyes and relieving irritation and redness. Many preparations are available in the market e.g. Tears Plus, Hypotears Plus, Moss, Moisol, etc. Although allergy or reactions to these eye drops are uncommon yet one should be careful in using them, and if they cause any irritation, redness or swelling of the eyes they should be immediately discontinued. It is advisable to consult an ophthalmologist before using any eye medicines.
Anti-glare glasses do not provide any relief.
Beware of the silent killer
By Dr Sudhir Koganti
One may wonder what all this fuss about high blood pressure is. Hypertension causes many cardiovascular diseases that include stroke, heart attack, kidney failure and dementia, thus putting a huge burden on healthcare globally due to morbidity, mortality and associated costs. Last but not least, the public need to be aware of the correct treatment for high blood pressure.
Every year, the World Hypertension Day is celebrated on the 17th of May to increase awareness about this silent killer among general public. International Society of Hypertension along with World Hypertension League has designated the month of May as “May Measurement Month.”
The aim of this initiative is to screen as many people as possible that are over the age of 18 years for suspected hypertension. This strategy would greatly enhance in identifying silent or undiagnosed hypertensives so that they can be targeted with guideline directed lifestyle, dietary advice and treatment.
Awareness on the lower threshold of blood pressure reading required to label an individual as hypertensive is also required. American Heart Association guidelines released in 2017 clearly stipulate that a blood pressure reading of over 130/80 is now considered as stage 1 hypertension. However, the job of a cardiologist doesn’t stop with diagnosis but actually starts there. Once someone is labelled as hypertensive, it needs to be established if it is true or an entity called white coat hypertension.
Furthermore, investigations may have to be carried out to see if hypertension is secondary to a cause. Once diagnosed, a decision needs to be taken if lifestyle modification can be adopted or treatment needs to be initiated early.
Lifestyle modifications include six key steps and they are:
• Get expert advice from your doctor to help you understand your results;
• Lower salt/sodium to prevent excess fluid in the blood, which strains blood vessels;
• Eat more fruits and veggies – particularly potassium-rich ones – to balance out sodium in the blood;
• Exercise – it makes the heart stronger, putting less strain on blood vessels;
• Quit smoking – constituents of tobacco smoke damages blood vessel linings; and
• Monitor your blood pressure at home
As per studies and data, thousands of people are on wrong treatment for hypertension with a class of drugs called Betablockers (Atenolol, Metoprolol etc) being prescribed as first line or second line agent.
Betablockers have been phased out as first line or second line drugs to treat hypertension a while ago, unless there is concomitant coronary artery disease or heart failure. In fact, the same holds for other concomitant conditions too such as kidney disease, stroke etc.
Essentially, the key message is one prescription does not fit all and it need to be tailored to the individual in a dedicated specialist clinic. People need to actively undergo blood pressure screening of themselves.
They need to nudge their relatives and friends in the month of May and seek expert advice on how to manage and monitor this silent killer over the long run to lead an active and healthy life. (Writer is Consultant Cardiologist, Citizens Hospitals, Nallagandla, Serilingampally)
Dr Sudhir Koganti
Jawless fish may hold key to effective brain cancer treatment
A chemical found in jawless parasitic fish can be used to deliver anti-cancer drugs directly to brain tumours, as well as lead to more effective treatments for trauma and stroke, a study has found.
The research, published in the journal Science Advances, found that molecules from the immune system of the parasitic sea lamprey may also be combined with a wide array of other therapies, offering hope to treat disorders like multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease or even traumatic injuries.
“We believe it could be applied as a platform technology across multiple conditions,” said Eric Shusta, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the US.
When injected into the bloodstream, many drugs cannot reach targets in the brain as the blood-brain barrier prevents large molecules from leaving the blood vessels in the brain, researchers said.
In conditions such as brain cancer, stroke, trauma and multiple sclerosis, however, the barrier becomes leaky in and around the disease locations, researchers said.
The study found that leaky barrier offers a unique point of entry, allowing molecules to access the brain and deliver drugs precisely on target.
“Molecules like this normally couldn’t ferry cargo into the brain, but anywhere there’s a blood-brain barrier disruption, they can deliver drugs right to the site of pathology,” Shusta said in a statement.
Researchers said that the technology takes advantage of the fact that many diseases disrupt body’s natural defense mechanism – the blood-brain barrier, which lines the blood vessels of the central nervous system, protecting the brain from circulating toxins or pathogens.
They also linked the molecules to a chemotherapy called doxorubicin. The treatment prolonged survival in mouse models of glioblastoma, an incurable cancer.
“This could be a way to hold therapies in place that don’t otherwise accumulate well in the brain so they can be more effective,” said Ben Umlauf from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
“There are several disease processes that disrupt the blood-brain barrier and we could conceive of delivering a variety of different therapies with these molecules,” said John Kuo from the University of Texas in the US.
Life expectancy linked to a person’s walking speed
People who walk slowly have a lower life expectancy than those who walk fast, a recent study has claimed. According to the study published in the Journal of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, those with a habitually fast walking pace have a long life expectancy across all levels of weight status – from underweight to morbidly obese.
Underweight individuals with a slow walking pace had the lowest life expectancy (an average of 64.8 years for men, 72.4 years for women). The same pattern of results was found for waist circumference measurements.
Professor Tom Yates, the lead author of the study, said, “Our findings could help clarify the relative importance of physical fitness compared to body weight on the life expectancy of individuals. In other words, the findings suggest that perhaps physical fitness is a better indicator of life expectancy than body mass index (BMI) and that encouraging the population to engage in brisk walking may add years to their lives.”
Dr Francesco Zaccardi, co-author of the study, said, “Studies published so far have mainly shown the impact of body weight and physical fitness on mortality in terms of relative risk, for example, a 20 per cent relative increase of risk of death for every 5 kilograms per metres squared increase, compared to a reference value of a BMI of 25 kilograms per metres squared (the threshold BMI between normal weight and overweight).”
Last year, Professor Yates and his team showed that middle-aged people who reported that they are slow walkers were at higher risk of heart-related disease compared to the general population.