New CooperVision Study Reveals New Ways for ECPs to Engage Patients on Critical Digital Eye Strain Topics

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LAS VEGAS—A new study commissioned by CooperVision Inc. reveals that while the explosive use of digital device screens may pose vision challenges, only a fraction of U.S. eyecare professionals (ECP) are talking about these issues.

Only 6 percent of U.S. consumers reported that they had spoken with an ECP regarding concerns about time using screens. However, 64 percent of contact lens wearers and 60 percent of glasses wearers reported they would be very interested or somewhat interested in exploring ways to reduce eye strain with their ECP.

“It’s clear that many people entering an eyecare practice want to talk about their digital device usage with their eyecare professional, even though such conversations are rarely being held,” said Michele Andrews, OD, senior director of professional and academic affairs, North America, CooperVision.

The study also cast light on terms used by consumers to describe how their eyes feel after spending long periods of time staring at digital screens—words and phrases that ECPs may employ to spark a conversation. These included tired (60 percent), dry (18 percent), blurry (17 percent) and strained (9 percent). To a lesser extent, words included fatigued, cloudy, scratchy, heavy, burning and irritated. With 57 separate words or phrases reported in total, this points to a broad group of indicators, dependent on each person.

Among all surveyed adults, 16 percent report being concerned about the amount of time spent looking at screens in an average day. That jumps to 25 percent among contact lens wearers.

A portion of consumers are practicing good habits when their eyes felt fatigued from screen use, including taking a break for a few minutes (74 percent), closing their eyes for a few minutes (48 percent) and looking away for a few seconds (40 percent).

“Interestingly, Millennials (18-34) were more likely than older respondents to behave like this, perhaps from being digital natives,” said Andrews. “There’s still room for to grow these good habits among people of all ages, through regular advice and reminders from ECPs.”

She added, “As much as we rely on our eyes as the primary input device for digital screens, we have a long way to go in helping consumers understand the importance of eye health,” noted Andrews. “When 24 percent of the population say they actively research and maintain knowledge of how to live a healthy lifestyle, only 9 percent do the same to keep their eyes healthy. ECPs can take that leadership role, and based on what the data tells us, consumers are eager to listen.”

Andrews noted, “With the growing adoption of groundbreaking products such as Biofinity Energys, which recently celebrated their one-year anniversary in the U.S., ECPs have new opportunities to engage in this discussion.” Approximately 14,000 optometry practices across North America are now prescribing the patent-pending lenses.

The CooperVision-funded study was conducted among 1,129 U.S. adults (18+) from Aug. 22 to 23, 2017 by YouGov Plc. All figures have been weighted except for consumer-supplied phrases relating to eye fatigue.