Eye care for exams

ByMartha R. Camara

Apr 17, 2022

Board exams are coming up. Often, students become sluggish, tired and restless due to exam anxiety. Parents are equally worried during these months of the year. Too much to do in too little time pushes children to study longer. Long hours of study with prolonged near activity, insomnia, infrequent blinking and increased screen time cause fatigue, dryness and itching in the eyes, leading to discomfort, headache head, blurred vision and even migraines. These symptoms make them less effective during the crucial days of the study period. Study hours can be even longer for visually impaired children. Maintaining good eye health in students is a collective responsibility of students, parents, teachers, and physicians.

To prevent eye strain and increase efficiency during those demanding hours, the following safety measures can provide students with a healthier and more serene study experience.

Get a comprehensive eye exam

It is advisable to have your eyes checked by an ophthalmologist before the start of the study break to rule out any changes in the power of the glasses (for those who already wear glasses) and the possibility of developing ocular power. Wearing glasses with poor power will cause unnecessary eye strain.

Follow the 20-20-20 rule

It is advisable to take frequent breaks for the duration of the study to avoid unnecessary discomfort from prolonged close activity. Follow the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes – look 20 feet away/out the window – for 20 seconds to shift the focus from near to far so that the eye muscles acting for close activity are sufficiently relaxed.

Frequent flashing

Remember to blink frequently, as there is often a tendency not to blink during extended study hours – this prevents dryness, itching and eye strain.

Maintain correct posture

Maintaining correct posture and reading distance prevents neck and back problems. Students should be encouraged to inculcate the habit of sitting up straight with a straight back and avoiding excessive neck flexion.

Limit the use of digital gadgets

Doctors advocate restricted use of digital gadgets whenever possible. In cases where this is unavoidable, use larger screens at eye level instead of cell phones and view from a distance of more than two feet. Use screen protectors such as anti-glare and anti-glare screens and adjust screen brightness to comfortable levels for viewing.

Do not sit directly in front

an air conditioner/chiller

or fan

Do not sit in front of an air conditioner or air cooler or fan to avoid drying out your eyes. Taking these steps can reduce dry eye symptoms. In an extreme situation, lubricating eye drops may be necessary.

Sit in a well-lit and ventilated room

Room lighting is also a crucial element. The study room for students should be pleasant, free from distractions and well lit with adequate ventilation. Excessive amounts of ambient light will cause unnecessary eye strain and damage the eyes. Lighting that is too bright causes glare, and lighting that is too dim requires more effort – exposure to natural daylight and ambient lighting (avoiding shadows) is recommended.

At least one hour of physical activity

Students should be encouraged to engage in at least one hour of physical activity or free time each day for their general well-being and relaxation.

Follow a healthy sleep pattern

Studying at night and using electronic gadgets lead to altered blood levels of melatonin, which is responsible for the circadian rhythm. Any deviation from the circadian rhythm leads to irregular sleep patterns and behavioral issues such as anxiety and stress. Students should be encouraged to sleep at least 6-8 hours a day.

Stay hydrated

On top of all that, the scorching summer leads to dehydration, restlessness, and even migraines. Above all, maintaining hydration and consuming a healthy diet are very critical.

(The author is a consultant ophthalmologist, Child Sight

Institute at LV Prasad Eye

institute in Hyderabad)