Saturday, July 20, 2019

Impact of screens on long term eye sight by Arpita Mary

Impact of screens on long term eye sight

About 80 percent of American adults report using digital devices for more than two hours per day with nearly 67 percent using two or more devices simultaneously, and 59 percent report systems of digital eye strain.
Staring at screens for long periods of time can cause Computer Vision Syndrome, which can lead to two problems. First problem is dry eyes, caused by lack of blinking. When you are too engrossed in reading the screen, you forget to blink, thus causing blurry vision and discomfort. This is because you don’t allow the tear film on your eyes to re-establish.
The second problem is eye strain. This is because of the glare of the device that you are using. These bright lights or glare exhaust your eyes’ ability to focus.
Other than these, excessive use of computers/ digital devices can also cause burning, irritation, heavy or tired eyes, eye strain, or even tearing up (reflex response to the dryness). These, in effect, lead to eye strain, headaches, and even, stress.
Symptoms of eye dryness can be aggravated by a number of other exposures in our day to day lives. Contact lenses, medications such as antihistamines or antidepressants can cause eye dryness and low humidity environments such as office buildings with blowing air conditioning or heat can also cause eye irritation[1]. People with any of the above risk factors may experience eye symptoms with even minimal screen time.
Fortunately, this can be treated easily if you follow a certain lifestyle, which would include healthy eating and exercise. The most important exercise is to blink at regular intervals. You should also try to change your focus every few minutes, by looking at a farther distance, say 20 feet. Taking regular eye breaks is important for resting the eyes, blinking and limiting eye strain.
There are also some changes that you can incorporate at your work desk. Some of them are:-
·        sit about two feet away from a computer screen,
·        use a matte screen filter to reduce glare,
·        try using larger fonts, especially on your phones,
·        avoid using digital devices in dark rooms, or, use softer lighting to reduce the strain on eyes[2]
·        Consider having a humidifier in the office or close to your computer if the surrounding air is dry.
All these steps and regular meditation will help you in taking care of your eyes. And yes, don’t forget to blink!

Spectacles for children: Why has it become the common standard? by Arpita Mary Abraham

Spectacles for children: Why has it become the common standard?
Take a walk in your surrounding park and you will find scores of children wearing spectacles. Is this a new phenomenon? Was this the same case a decade or two earlier? If not, why has this become the new trend?
One of the reasons is the decreasing level of outdoor activities, which is a result of the increasing addiction to television, video games, tablets, and, of course, smart phones. This has been shown by a study in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, which has concluded that children may reduce their risk of developing myopia by spending more time outdoors[1]. Even though, genetics also affect eyesight, but controllable environmental factors such as playing video games also affect the likelihood of a child becoming short-sighted. In addition, scientists discovered that children born in the summer were more likely to develop  nearsightedness than their peers, a fact researchers credited to earlier entry into the education system, which is associated with changes to the shape of the eyeball linked to myopia.
Apart from the sedentary lifestyle, increased use of digital devices is also to blame for nearsightedness. But according to scientists, this risk can be offset by spending more time outside. However, parental anxiety, demanding homework schedules and the rise of electronic equipment are increasingly keeping children indoors.
There might also be some other reasons which might be quite different from an adults’. They might need spectacles to help straighten the eyes when they are crossed or misaligned, to help strengthen the vision of a weak eye (amblyopia), or to protect one eye when the other eye has poor vision[2].
 Apart from the uncontrollable factors, there are certain steps that can be followed to prevent eye problems like myopia in children. These include limiting the phone/ electronic device usage by setting a time for it everyday and making sure that the child watches TV from a safe distance, i.e., not too close. Also, one should make sure that the child wears sunglasses while outdoors to prevent the sun rays to stress the eyes. The most important step is to increase the time that they spend outdoors.
If these steps are followed on a regular basis and by having a healthy diet, the chances of a child having to wear spectacles would decrease by a big margin.

-Arpita Mary Abraham

Erik Weihenmayer- The blind mountaineer

Erik Weihenmayer- The blind mountaineer
‘A spark of greatness exists in all people, but only by touching that spark to adversity’s flame does it blaze into the force that fuels our lives and the world.’
Eric Weihenmayer was born on September 23, 1968 in Princeton, New Jersey. At 15 months old, he was diagnosed with juvenile retinoschisis, with blindness the expected outcome by age 13. At age 4, Weihenmayer and his family moved to Coral Gables, Florida, and, in 1975, to Hong Kong, where Erik attended the Hong Kong International School for grades 2-6. As he was going blind, Weihenmayer fought against blindness using canes and learning Braille[1]. At 16, he started using a guide dog. He tried rock climbing, and found he was natural at scrambling up a face using his hands and feet to find holds. After his blindness, he started becoming more physically active, taking up both wrestling and rock climbing. He credited this to his parents’ insistence and encouragement.
After graduating from college, Weihenmayer became a teacher and also joined the Arizona Mountaineering Club, spending his free time rock climbing. Soon it was much more than just a hobby and in 1995 he reached the top of Mount Denali, the highest peak in North America. Weihenmayer went on to scale three more of the seven highest mountains in the world (the “Seven Summits,” or highest mountains on each continent) before finally setting his sights on Mount Everest in 2001[2].
His decision to climb Mount Everest was doubted by his fellow mountaineers . He was hurt by all the doubts, but he was also aware of the many problems that he would have to face, that other mountaineers with full use of sight did not. But Weihenmayer was no mountaineering novice who was simply determined to reach the world’s highest peak at great risk to his other team members. He had been climbing for 16 years at this point and, far from being a hindrance to his climbing teammates, he had often been the one to offer them assistance.
When he finally climbed Mount Everest in spite of all the doubts and challenges that he faced, he joined the ranks of the few who had been able to climb to the highest spot on the planet.
And by 2008, he had climbed the rest of the Seven Summits, becoming one of only 150 people to have ever accomplished this, yet another incredible feat in an incredible career.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

How to make it a more inclusive world: Guest Post by Tapas Bhardwaj


            Please ensure that no one around you keep their belongings on the tactile paths which are made for the movement of persons with visual disabilities, it creates inaccessibility. You all can contribute in making a path free of obstruction so that an easy movement of a person with visual disability can be made sure.


            Some people while cleaning their houses or galleries leave the water on the floors, which can be a hurdle to any person. The consequences can be worse if a person using a wheel chair approaches, then the wheel chair user can slide and fall down. It is advised that the water should be properly wiped off.


            I have often observed, the garbage bins are kept on the staircase of the apartment so that the sweeper can come and pick it up. However, it should be given to the sweeper only when he comes. The garbage bin if left on the staircase, can be a reason of falling of a person with visual disability as he can bang into that bin and fall down.



            At times, some people spit or scratch the dots of the Braille signage provided on the elevators thinking that it is some fancy design. The dots at times get displaced causing inaccessibility.

Advise anyone whom you see doing such a thing, to not to do so as it also gives a wrong image of that particular public place in the eyes of visitors also!

            The Government has provided auditory signals in metros and is in a process to provide these signals in buses so that persons with visual disabilities can get to know about the station they have reached.

However, at times the people talk so loudly in public transport, that the people are unable to here the announcement which creates a problem in navigating the station. Try to talk in a low tone the next time you travel, it also helps in saving your energy.

            Auditory signals have also been provided on the red lights for crossing of the roads for the persons with visual disabilities. The use of the horns often hides the sound of these signals thus creating inaccessibility. While driving your vehicle, try to use the horn to its minimum level.

            People can also contribute in providing accessibility to the persons with disabilities by participating in short courses like learning the basic of the sign language so that they can communicate with the people who are hard of hearing.

            People also need to come forward and design special programs in their community for the persons having intellectual disabilities.

            Persons with disabilities should be made part of the resident welfare associations in colonies so that the problems and the challenges that they face in their day today lives can be resolved as these associations interact with the Governments as well. The contribution of both the people and the Government can only lead to a dream of Viksit Bharat come true and the rights of persons with disabilities act 2016 properly implemented. There should be a communication, cooperation and contribution by both the public and the Government for making an accessible India which can become a role model country for the persons with disabilities of the entire world.

About the Author:
Tapas Bhardwaj

Tapas Bhardwaj is a student of Amity Law School Delhi. He has been the Head Boy of Delhi Public School RK Puram. He has been the recipient of the NTSE scholarship provided by the Government of India. He has been the recipient of national levels awards provided to him by the Home Ministry Government of India, Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change Government of India and many others. Tapas feels that persons with disabilities requires platform to showcase their abilities. The ability if utilized properly can help any person to live his life with dignity respect and a sense of happiness. Tapas has authored several columns that have published in DailyO, Newzhook, ED Times, AB EDU news etc.


Tapas Bhardwaj (BA LLB Honours)

Amity Law School Delhi

Contact Number :+919958313047

Friday, July 12, 2019

Interview with Richa Bansal, Founder of Saarathee

Interview with Richa Bansal, Founder of Saarathee

This is an excerpt from an interview with Richa Bansal, founder of Saarathee- a for profit customer contact center, which has visually impaired employees working in multiple processes.

What is the work that Saarathee deals with?

It is essentially a customer contact center, where we do lead conversion and we support organizations in their customer service needs. Say, for instance, there are start ups that are in their expansion phase and they mostly need help in driving their sales, so they resort to digital marketing campaigns and they are able to generate enough leads. However, they lack the bandwidth as well as the proficiency, both technically as well as people wise, to convert those leads into actual sales and that’s where we play a role. And we have a team which addresses such clients.

What kind of clients does Saarathee deal with? Are there any specific sectors which are more frequent?

Not really, we are fairly open to all the sectors. Right now, given the fact that everybody is moving into the domain of online platforms, so there are lots of clients that we have who are actually doing their business online. So, whether we talk about Cashify, which is again an online platform, for selling old devices, or if you speak about Coding Ninjas, which is primarily into e- learning platforms for coding languages programs. We also work with Amazon, supporting them in finding sellers online so that they can come, register themselves on their platforms. These are the clients that we are working with right now.

What inspired you to start this?

Well, this is one and a half year old and it was a combination of things. When we started out, I wanted to do something in the space of providing livelihood, and I was very clear that there was a need gap which existed, in terms of superior customer engagement. A lot of companies were driving customer care, but that was sub optimal in terms of the quality of conversations that was being driven by these firms and executives, largely because most of them are being run as factories, and not necessarily from the point of driving empathy when the customer is being spoken with. Given the fact that I had an experience of working with the blind earlier in my erstwhile organization, Vodafone, I knew what they could bring to the table. Also, I had a fair stint with NAB- I spent around nine months with them. I saw them working very closely and I understood the skill set that they could bring to the table. So we tried to marry both of these together and that’s how Saarathee eventually came into being

How did you go about starting this venture? Were there any particular challenges that you faced?

Ofcourse. One, my start happened with research. I just didn’t start it at will. I invested in a fair bit of studying and research. I would like to give credit to NAB, Hauz Khas, firstly, because the director there was always a friend and, secondly, because he also gave me an opportunity and a window to engage and interact, not only with people who are blind, but also with authorities that are doing their bit of work in terms of skilling them. I got a fair understanding of what kind of skill was being invested in, what kind of people could possibly do something like this. Apart from this, I engaged with people who were already working with people with disabilities, so that I could gain from their experience. So, when I pieced it all together, I think we managed to make a confident start from there. And as for having setbacks, in the first few months, in fact the first year in itself, we had a fair bit of experiences, learning and a lot of highs and lows that we saw. But I guess, we learn, fall and move on.

Is there any advice that you would like to give to those who would like to combine the social sector with their startup?

I think it is very critical, first to identify the value that you eventually want to drive. Because, if you do not find value, you would not be able to sustain it. Here, the business need was merged with the social impact need that we wanted to create. And that’s how the marriage worked.