Joyasree Das, M.SC in Optometry

Optometrist, Eye7, Chaudhary Eye Center



The COVID-19 pandemic in India is part of the worldwide pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019.

The disease can possibly spread from person to person through coughs or exhales. To restrict the outbreak, lockdown is the primary solution.

During the lockdown period most people are totally stuck in house. They are restricted to indoor activities and use of different electronic devices for stress buster.

  • A study(1) found that the lockdown restriction has increased the children’s addiction to electronic devices increased up to three times. Additionally, the survey revealed that 65% of the children become addicted to electronic devices, while 50% of them could not stay away from their gadgets for even half an hour. From watching our favourite web series to work from home situation have increased the exposure to screen during the lockdown.
  • “When you are stuck to the screen, your blink rate capacity also goes down, leading to irritation of the eyes, dryness, headaches, and refractive errors.(2, 3) This is what screen time does to a child”. Visual fatigue and discomfort were significantly induced by viewing smart mobile devices with a high-resolution display.(4)
  • The outbreak of COVID-19 shifted the whole education system into a virtual mode. According to UNESCO, since the outbreak of COVID-19 began 1.37 billion students in 138 countries worldwide have been affected by the school and university closer.
  • Face masks have become routine accessory for human after COVID-19 But incorrect use of masks may not provide good protection, which also may damage our health.
  • According to John Xu, a research scientist working on the Stanford project. “N-95 masks are estimated to reduce oxygen intake by anywhere from 5% to 20% . That is significant, even for a healthy person. It can cause dizziness and light-headedness. If you wear a mask long enough, it can damage the lungs. For a patient in respiratory distress, it can even be life threatening.”(5)
  • Prolonged use of mask may produce poor breathing, migraine, sinusitis problem due to hypoxia.(6)



The  prolonged use of system, digital devices, reading and doing near work for long periods are the main reason of asthenopia that it has been dubbed “computer vision syndrome” or “digital eyestrain.”(7) Asthenopia is more commonly known as eyestrain or ocular fatigue. It is not serious and goes away once you rest your eyes. Sometimes, asthenopia is related to an underlying vision problem, such as astigmatism or farsightedness.

Most of the time, asthenopia can be treated by making a few changes to your environment and lifestyle. Like,

  • Adjust your lighting when performing reading or sewing or watching TV.
  • Limiting the amount of time, take breaks using the “20-20-20 rule” by shifting your eyes to look at an object at least 20 feet away, for 20 seconds, every 20 minutes.(8)
  • Use artificial tears help keep your eyes lubricated.

Medical treatment for asthenopia is sometimes needed when symptoms are severe or related to an underlying condition.

Small and insignificant corrections in the lifestyle such as maintain proper posture while working, proper room illumination, healthy diet and spending more time with family away from digital exposure will help in relieving the Asthenopic symptoms as well as reduce your mental stress.



  1. Urvashi Dev Rawal, June 16, (2020),Gadget addiction among children during lockdown a cause of concern, Hindustan Times, Jaipur. (; Last Accessed: 18Nov2020; 19:36hrsIST)
  2. Patel S, Henderson R, Bradley L, Galloway B, Hunter L. Effect of visual display unit use on blink rate and tear stability. Optom Vis Sci. 1991 Nov 1;68(11):888-92.
  3. Park S, Kyung G, Choi D, Yi J, Lee S, Choi B, Lee S. Effects of display curvature and task duration on proofreading performance, visual discomfort, visual fatigue, mental workload, and user satisfaction. Applied ergonomics. 2019 Jul 1;78:26-36.
  4. Kim DJ, Lim CY, Gu N, Park CY. Visual fatigue induced by viewing a tablet computer with a high-resolution display. Korean Journal of Ophthalmology. 2017 Oct 1;31(5):388-93.
  5. John Xu, April 14 (2020), COVID-19 prompts Stanford engineers to rethink the humble face mask, Stanford News ( (Last Accessed: 18Nov2020; 19:36hrsIST)
  6. Tian Z, Kim BY, Bae MJ. A study on the effect of wearing masks on stress response. Memory. 2020 Jan 1;8:12.
  7. Stephaine E Wu, MD, Jan 22, 2020, Computer Vision Syndrome: A Growing Issue In A Digital World.(; Last Accessed: 18Nov2020; 19:36hrsIST)
  8. Kierstan Boyd, Mar. 03, 2020, Computers, Digital Devices and Eye Strain (; Last Accessed: 18Nov2020; 19:36hrsIST)