Survey results from The Vision Council show that more than 83 percent of Americans report using digital devices for more than two hours per day, and 60.5 percent report experiencing symptoms as a result.
Among key findings from the 2017 VisionWatch survey, Americans are especially tied to the following:
- Computer: An average 75.6 percent of respondents regularly use a computer to research, 54.2 percent to shop online, 48.7 percent to find a recipe, 36.2 percent to check social media and 26.7 percent to play games.
- Smartphone: An average 58.2 percent of respondents regularly use a smartphone to get directions, 56.6 percent to serve as an alarm clock, 53.7 percent to check the weather, 38.1 percent to check social media and 25.8 percent to play games.
- Television: An average 32.2 percent of respondents use television to get the news, 16 percent to keep track of professional sports and 14 percent to check the weather.
With an increase in digital technology, many individuals suffer from what The Vision Council refers to as digital eye strain—a collection of physical symptoms felt after screen use for longer than two hours.
“In the 1950s it was the emergent popularity of television. In the 1980s it was the desktop computer. Today, we have so many screens competing for our eyeballs daily, and with that has come the effects of digital eye strain on all ages,” explained Dr. Justin Bazan, optometrist and medical adviser to The Vision Council.
According to The Vision Council’s survey, American adults report experiencing the following symptoms of digital eye strain: eye strain (32.6 percent), dry eyes (22.7 percent), headache (21.4 percent), blurred vision (22 percent) and neck and shoulder pain (30.8 percent).
Children are especially susceptible to these symptoms, plus reduced attention span, poor behavior and irritability. 72 percent of adults report their children get more than two hours of screen time per day, with 30.1 percent reporting their children experience symptoms of digital eye strain and 74.4 percent being somewhat or very concerned about the impact of digital devices on their children. Despite this, just 24.6 percent of parents say they make an annual eye exam for their children as part of back-to-school preparation.
Here’s a final eye-opening statistic: 72.6 percent of Americans say they did not know eyewear can be used to protect their eyes from the potentially short- and long-term effects of digital eye strain. Little do they know, eyewear is available with lenses featuring magnification, anti-reflective.
10 WAYS TO ALLEVIATE DIGITAL EYESTRAIN*
- Take breaks
Staring non-stop at a computer, tablet, or phone for several hours will cause problems for your eyes. So why not take a break? Stand up from your desk for a while, actively blink or close your eyes for a moment, and move around a bit. This will benefit both your eyes and your mental health.
The 20-20-20 rule is a great rule of thumb: every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break from the computer and look at something that’s about 20 feet away.
- Exercise your eyes
Similar to the 20-20-20 rule, try looking at objects placed at a distance for 15 seconds, then bringing back your focus on a closer object (nothing techy), and look at that for 15 seconds as well. Repeat several times. Also try rotating your eyeballs – your body isn’t the only thing that needs exercise!
- Lubricate your eyes
Staring at a computer for hours dries up the surface of our eyes because it causes us to blink less. Dry eyes lead to irritation, which can bring about other problems like red eyes and itchiness. To help avoid this, close your eyes for a few seconds every now and then, or blink (hard) a few times. Lubricating eye drops (Refresh and Clear Eyes brands are good, Visine is NOT) are also recommended to help keep your eyes moist and healthy.
- Get a yearly eye exam
Why wait until you feel discomfort or something serious develops to go to the eye doctor? Eye exams are as important as general health check-ups, which is why you should do both of them at least once a year. Be sure to tell your doctor the number of hours you spend on electronic devices each day, in and outside of work.
- Adjust your computer settings
There are a few things you could adjust on your computer and, in some cases, other devices that will mitigate digital eye strain. Try equipping your screens with anti-glare screens, make sure your computer has a high resolution display, keep your monitor bright to reduce flicker rate, and adjust options like contrast, color display, etc. to find a setting that’s easier on the eyes.
- Try computer glasses
That’s right – glasses made specifically for computer use. They have anti-glare and anti-reflective coatings that eliminate reflections of light from the front and back surfaces of your lenses. This is one of the best ways to avoid eye strain. Additionally, avoid wearing contact lenses if you’re going to spend prolonged hours in front of a screen.
- Update your screen
The bigger and newer the screen, the happier your eyes will be. Not only do older, wide, clunky screens take up too much space on your desk, but they’re also damaging your eyes! LCD (Liquid Crystal Displays), a layer that thin screens have, has anti-reflective surfaces, which are better for your eyes. Similarly, choosing a big screen over a small one is also better from an ability-to-focus standpoint – your eyes won’t have to work as hard.
- Check your monitor’s position
If your monitor sits too close to you, it is very likely you will feel discomfort in your eyes. It is important to keep your monitor a proper distance away from your eyes.Optimally, the computer screen should be 15 to 20 degrees below eye level – about 4 or 5 inches as measured from the center of the screen – and 20 to 28 inches from the eyes.
- Rethink your lighting
The level of lighting around you should be suitable for your eyes while using a digital device. Put blinds or drapes on windows and keep your lights as bright as your device’s illumination. Too much or too little light make it a struggle for your eyes to adjust, resulting in strain and possibly headaches.
- Keep your eyes healthy
Article by Vision Monday