Dr Rajesh Rajpal Discusses Screen Usage, Eye Issues Amid the Pandemic


Rajesh Rajpal, MD, chief medical officer, global head of clinical medical affairs, Johnson & Johnson Vision, speaks on the impact of screen usage for eyes and trends in eye symptom burden reported amid the pandemic.

Increased screen usage amid the pandemic could have an extensive impact on the eyes, which is why evaluation by an eye care professional is important to maintain eye health, said Raj Rajpal, MD, chief medical officer, global head of clinical medical affairs, Johnson & Johnson Vision.


As screen usage has grown significantly in recent years, what impact does this have on the eye?

Absolutely, we're all finding ourselves on screens, whether it's in meetings these days, or if it's using tablets, or certainly our phones. And there are multiple things that occur from that. From the perspective of patients not blinking as much, there's greater dryness.

Patients are noticing other symptoms like allergies more frequently are bothersome when we're staring at a screen. And part of that is we're just not getting a chance to really rest our eyes as much.

From a cataract perspective, again, it goes back to the need for greater clarity. And so, though that cataract may have been progressing at the same rate, if we weren't doing as much on our screens and up close, perhaps we wouldn't have noticed it as much. So, patients all tend to notice it more, but yet, we still need our distance vision, we still need all ranges of vision.

That's why it's certainly important to have an evaluation by your eye care professional so that you can make sure that you aren't missing some other causes of decreased vision that we might attribute to just strain from looking at a screen or looking at our tablets or phones all day.

As the pandemic is beginning to ease, are people coming in and reporting more eye problems?

Even actually through the pandemic, patients continued to come in. And yes, they definitely noticed more difficulty with some of the things that we were just talking about, which again, is related to often just staring at a screen for a continuous time period.

So, again, it would be dryness, it would be allergies, it would be just general fatigue or strain. It's often related to the vision just not feeling as clear. And so I think again, the number one step is making sure you're having an eye doctor take a look, and yes, patients are coming in now frequently with symptoms like that. And we're looking for all the medical situations such as cataracts, we look for glaucoma, we look for all other causes.

One of the most common things that people found is even when wearing masks and then wearing glasses, their glasses would become more cloudy or foggy. And so that also changes how patients want to function. Sometimes they want to use contact lenses more frequently, otherwise they may want to consider laser surgery more commonly.

Then the same thing happens at the time of cataract surgery, since now we have options when we do cataract surgery for specialized lens implants that can reduce the need for glasses. When patients are deciding on cataract surgery, they often find it beneficial to choose those types of lens implants.

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