Give Your Eyes a Break

Most mornings while I wait for the train to NYC, I look down the platform and see a long line of commuters, heads down, looking at their phones. It’s 7 a.m. It’s no secret that many of us have our phones with us constantly— some of us even sleep with them. The proliferation of handheld devices—smartphones, readers, tablets and those pint-sized PCs—is literally stealing our attention, and so it seems, our eyesight as well.

According to a recent survey by The Vision Council, our reliance on digital technology is having a negative impact on our eyes with one in three adults admitting they are tethered to a digital device for up to six hours per day. The result? A startling 70 percent of the survey’s respondents already experience digital eye strain, sometimes resulting in blurred vision and dry eyes, not to mention back, neck and shoulder pain. The study goes on to reveal that only half of those American adults affected by this side effect of “technology” are actually addressing the problem.

This month’s Cover Story (see Page 41) focuses on how mobile technology is changing and improving the doctor-patient relationship, from the exam room to the dispensary and the many ways ECPs communicate beyond the office visit. But we may all be missing the forest for the trees when it comes to this modern technology. When do we reach the point when we become too “connected”?

It’s a conversation you need to start having with your patients, especially if they come in complaining of headaches or dry eyes. Ask them about their lifestyle and habits starting with how many hours a day they use digital devices. The answer might be to prescribe computer glasses or have them readjust the settings on their screens. Or the solution could be as simple as powering down those devices and taking a well-deserved break.