Many of us rely heavily on smart devices for work or leisure, especially now as it is compulsory to stay home during the CMCO (controlled movement control order) which was implemented by the government to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

It has been noted more than two hours of continuous screen time can lead to a condition called “digital eye strain”, which causes DED (dry eye disease, eye strain, headaches, blurry vision and the wrong angle of viewing (normally downwards) which will cause neck and shoulder pain.

“DED can affect adults who are always facing the screen working from home as well as children who are exposed to longer screen time via e-learning during this period,’‘ said Dr Vienne Tai, a Vista Eye Specialist consultant ophthalmologist, who is also a cataract and refractive surgeon .

“Preparing for Post MCO: Are Your Eyes Ready?” was a recent live webinar session organized by Vista Eye Specialist where Dr Tai was one of the participating experts to discuss causes, effects and solutions to maintaining good eye health after an extended MCO.

According to statistics, 25% of patients who visit ophthalmic clinics show symptoms of dry eye. As such, dry eyes syndrome is now becoming a growing public health problem that eye care practitioners are seeing very frequently in their patients.

A meta-analysis done whereby data was extracted from independent surveys, estimated the occurrence of DED at nearly 46% in those found to use electronic devices for extended periods of time, which is a significantly high percentage.

“Aside from prolonged screen time, other factors that can cause DED includes ageing; dry environment such as air-conditioned area; lack of Omega-3 intake; post-lasik surgery effect; patients with medical conditions such as diabetic and thyroid; inflammation of lid margin; as well as certain medications including antihistamine and for hypertension,” said Dr Tai, adding emphasis that females are more prone to DED because of hormonal changes.

“Look out for symptoms like gritty, stinging and burning sensation in eyes, redness, tired eyes, watery eyes, itchiness, intermittent blurry vision and sensitivity to light,” she said.

Practising the 202020 rule is a method advised by Dr Tai to take care of your eyes. The 202020 rule includes looking away at something 20ft (6m) away for 20 seconds for every 20 minutes of screen time. The 202020 rule is in addition to setting an appropriate brightness level of your screen, applying artificial tears, cleaning mucus off your eyelids after a shower and using a warm compression over eyes, a combination of which should bring forth better results.

“If all else fails, seek medical consultation for treatments suited to your condition. Treatments available are environmental, dietary and medication adjustments, lubricating treatments, anti-inflammatory treatments and meibomian gland treatments,” she said.

Dr Alan Koh, senior consultant ophthalmologist, cataract and refractive surgeon at Vista Eye Specialist, spoke of the importance of early detection and treatment for cataracts during the webinar led by Carmen Tham, an optometrist.

Cataract caused blindness in nearly 216,000 Malaysians, and it is the leading cause for loss of vision in people past the age of 40 according to data from a survey done in 2016 by the National Eye Survey done in 2016.

“Malaysians prefer to delay treatment hoping that the condition will heal naturally due. The problem is that delaying surgery will cause their vision to degenerate gradually as well as making the eyes vulnerable other eye diseases such like glaucoma.”

“Additionally, poor vision can cause incidences of injuries as a result of not being able to perform daily tasks properly such as driving and walking, which could lower patients’ confidence and self-esteem too,” said Dr Koh.

Dr Koh highlighted cataract surgery as being the most effective way to restore vision, and is suitable even for senior citizens.


Dr Koh went on to explain that with advancements made in ophthalmology, no-blade cataract surgery is now available. This surgery can be done in just three simple steps.

“The procedure is fully computerised to ensure personalised femtosecond laser incision, capsulotomy and lens fragmentation, which reduces the possible human errors.

“After which, intraocular lenses can be designed to address additional visual concerns. For instance, the modern trifocal IOL allows for good far, intermediate distance vision and close-up focus.”

Dr Anson Teh, another consultant ophthalmologist, cataract and refractive surgeon at Vista, shared a presentation highlighting three common eye symptoms – vision loss, abnormalities in sensation (e.g., itching, tearing) and the appearance of the eye and its surrounding parts (e.g., redness, protruding eyeballs, squint, etc).

“Since these conditions are painless, it doesn’t prompt patients to seek medical consultation urgently, which causes vision impairment or blindness in the long run.

“Most causes of sudden vision loss come from blood vessel problems like blockage or bleeding while some are caused not by the eye itself but from the brain such as stroke,” he added.

To conclude, our eyes are the window to the world. Take care of them well, and you will be able to see and experience all that this world has to offer. Give your eyes proper rest by having sufficient sleep, and try to avoid using electronic media at least two hours before sleeping. Discipline yourself by putting the 202020 rule into practice when using any form of electronic media.

Most importantly, do plan regular appointments with a qualified ophthalmologist to run routine tests to ensure your eyes are in good condition, and do seek immediate attention if you get the slightest feeling there is something wrong with your eyes – better safe than sorry!

By Aaron
13th May 17:54

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