‘Eyes Overexposed:’ New Study Helps
Retailers Explain Digital Eye Strain

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LAS VEGAS—The impact of digital devices on vision are quite pronounced. Some 65 percent of Americans experience symptoms of digital eye strain, such as dry, irritated eyes, blurred vision, neck and back pain and headaches. Nearly eight of every 10 Americans who suffer from digital eye strain use two or more devices simultaneously. These are just a few of the findings of a new nationwide survey released this week at the International Consumer Electronics Show by The Vision Council, based on a survey of more than 10,000 adults.

The report, and its accompanying infographic, can help optical retailers explain the issue to their patients.

“Our eyes are not built to stare at digital screens all day, but the demands of our modern-day world frequently put us in front of a screen for hours every day,” said Justin Bazan, OD, medical adviser to The Vision Council. “Patients underestimate how their technology use may be contributing to eye strain and do not consider ways to reduce this stress.”

The report, Eyes Overexposed: Digital Device Dilemma, finds that Americans are spending more time using devices. In fact, one in 10 people report spending at least three-fourths of their waking hours on a digital device. Prolonged periods of use appear to exacerbate symptoms as 96 percent of Americans who experience digital eye strain spend two or more hours each day using devices. A combination of factors foster the onset of digital eye strain, including the proximity of the screen, the frequency and duration of use and the degree of exposure to high-energy visible (HEV) or blue light emitted by video screens.

Device use differs dramatically among generations. Key findings include:

  • A majority of parents (70 percent) who let their children use devices for three or more hours a day, or who do not set limits, report being very or somewhat concerned about the impact of digital devices on developing eyes.
  • Nearly nine of 10 Millennials (87 percent) in their 20s use two or more devices simultaneously and 73 percent report symptoms of digital eye strain.
  • Nearly 7 in 10 (67 percent) people in their 30s spend five or more hours each day on digital devices, contributing to the digital eye strain reported by 69 percent.
  • As adults in their 40s face challenges trying to focus their eyesight at varying distances and moving between devices, 66 percent experience digital eye strain.
  • Frequent users of computers, Americans 50 and older need to be cognizant of their work-space ergonomic set up. Nearly 65 percent of adults in their 50s and 53 percent of people 60 and older experience symptoms of digital eye strain.

“When using technology, many people think suffering with digital eye strain is unavoidable, but it doesn’t have to be,” said Mike Daley, CEO of The Vision Council. “The optical industry has responded to the shift in digital habits and has developed lens technology to protect eyes from blue light, glare and other environmental stressors.”

Commonly referred to as computer eyewear, these glasses have lenses that are constructed specifically for the mid-distance range at which users typically view a digital screen, and they can be purchased with or without a prescription. The lenses and filters are customized to reduce blurriness and pixilation, decrease brightness, block blue light, and minimize glare while working in front of a screen—or multiple screens.

Adults and children should have regular comprehensive eye exams to help preserve vision and identify other potential eye health issues. During an eye exam, patients should discuss their digital device habits with their eyecare provider to determine the best solutions for their lifestyle.

Below are five tips to relieve digital eye strain:

  1. Wear computer eyewear and glasses with lens options that can help reduce symptoms of digital eye strain, block harmful blue light and improve vision.
  2. Follow the 20-20-20 rule: Take a 20-second break from the screen every 20 minutes and look at something 20 feet away.
  3. Build an optically optimal workspace to mitigate outside irritants. For example, reduce overhead lighting to eliminate glare.
  4. ‘High-five’ the screen for the right viewing distance when sitting at a computer.
  5. Increase text size on devices to better define content on the screen.

To view or download a copy of Eyes Overexposed: Digital Device Dilemma, visit The Vision Council online at www.thevisioncouncil.org/DES.