Sunday, January 31, 2021
Harrisburg, PA, USA

ne of the daily responsibilities I have, at work, is the review and signing of several blue prints(design and construction drawings) before the projects go out for bidding. Before COVID, all I needed to do was get hard copies of the drawings, simply spread them on my desk and start the review and signature process. In spite of the critical nature of this process, its manual nature made it a simple exercise for me even though some projects have drawing sheets that run anywhere from 60 to 100 sheets. This is mainly true for building projects that contain multiple disciplines – architecture, electrical, mechanical, structural, civil/site, landscape, etc.

Enter COVID. Of course, COVID forced the “work from remote location” situation where review and signing of physical hard copies is no longer tenable, both from COVID safety and pragmatic perspective. I now have to review the drawings electronically, on the computer screen, append my signature electronically and then transmit them back to staff. Already, “work from remote location” caused most, if not all work activities to be transacted on the computer screen. These include virtual meetings, word processing, etc except for project site inspections that require physical presence in the site. With the added need to review and sign drawings on the computer screen, hours spent each day with the eyes trained on the computer screen increased astronomically!

With increased computer time, came a new phenomenon for me. I noticed that I developed the tendency to rub my eyes frequently while sitting in front of the screen. It started with periodic sensation of grit in the eyes, then quickly morphed into a sensation of eye strain. Whenever I feel the strain and look at my eyes in the mirror, I would notice a certain level of redness.

I lowered the brightness of my computer screen as well as changed it to nighttime settings to reduce blue emission. It did not completely solve my problem as I could still feel a measure of harshness in my eyes at the end of every day.

I wanted complete relief from this phenomenon, so I began research to see what else was out there in terms of a total remedy. First of all, my research revealed that I was not alone. Upwards of 41 million Americans have this issue and it affects people in so many different ways. It turned out that my symptoms were even milder than what many others experience. A site I looked at listed some other symptoms of prolonged stay in front of a computer screen. Some of them are:

  1. Aching and Red Eyes

  2. Hazy, Blurred, or Double Vision

  3. Sensitivity to Light or Glares

  4. Persistent "Floaters"in the eyes.

  5. White Areas in the Pupil( I have no idea what this means)

  6. Obscured Vision

  7. Eye fatigue and discomfort

  8. Dry eyes and headaches.

  9. Eye twitching.

While I felt a little better knowing that I was not alone and that my symptoms seemed to be on the very mild side, I still wanted to do something about it. I am waiting for the pandemic to tamp down before going to my eye doctor to ask for a tint in my glasses that would reduce UV blue computer light rays. Meanwhile, I saw a recommendation about “blue light removing” glasses on the web. Because it was very cheap, about $29, I ordered it, thinking, there is not much to lose. Then the glasses came; just plain glasses with yellowish, amber tint – see picture.

The next day, as soon as I was ready to start work on the computer, I put on my new glasses. I was hoping that it was not going to be one of those things that over-promise but under-deliver. As expected, the glasses changed the computer screen color into an amber shade, but the letters seemed sharper and clearer. I cautiously began my work. Just like anything else, as I really got into it, I forgot I was experimenting on something new. My eyes quickly adapted to the amber color. The next time I remembered that I was experimenting, I looked at the time, gauged my eyes to see if the gritty and achy feeling had set in. Alas, there was none of that. I sprung up, went to the mirror, removed the glasses and looked into the mirror, it was as clear as anything! I was shocked.

Unfortunately, the doubting Thomas in me said, “wait till the end of the day, when you would have put in at least 8 hours and see how it goes”. I replaced the glasses and went back to work for the rest of the day. I must confess that the glasses never left my eyes, even when I took a break from the screen and work.

As soon as the 5:00PM hour came, I gauged the feeling in my eyes, no strain! Again, I went to the mirror, no redness. I was sold. But the doubting Thomas in me again said, “how about using it for a couple of days to see if it will be consistent?”. Folks, I have now used it for a couple of days and the result has been consistent.

Because research says this is an issue with 41 million adults, I decided to share my experience. Even if this helps make a difference for one person who has the same issue, my job will be done. I found it intriguing that what seemed to have taken care of my problem was a very simple and cheap set of glasses.

Remember, this is just my personal experience and I am not making any recommendations. The only person that can make recommendations, regarding your health, is your doctor.

Anyway, that’s all folks!

Author of the books- 1. Nigeria: Contemporary Commentaries and Essays

2. Surviving in Biafra: The Story of the Nigerian Civil War