Digital Eye Fatigue

As technology advances, Americans are spending more and more time on digital devices, such as computers, smart phones, and tablets, than ever before.  This increased digital device exposure can increase the risk of developing digital eye strain.  A recent study conducted by The Vision Council, “Eyes Overexposed: The Digital Device Dilemma”, provides eye-opening insights into just how much time Americans of all ages spend in front of the screen.

The following are a few key statistics from the report:

  • Nearly 60% of Americans use digital devices for five or more hours each day.
  • 33% of children use a digital device for three or more hours each day.
  • 70% of Americans use two or more devices at a time.
  • 65% of Americans report experiencing symptoms of digital eye strain.
  • More than nine out of ten people with digital eye strain use devices for two or more hours each day.
  • Adults younger than 30 experience the highest rates of digital eye strain symptoms (73%) compared with other age groups.
  • 90% of patients do not talk with their eyecare provider about digital device useage.
  • Women are more likely to report symptoms of digital eye strain (69%) compared with med (60%).
  • Women (74%) are more likely than men (67%) to use two or more screens at the same time.

Source:  The Vision Council.  Eyes Overexposed: The Digital Device Dilemma; 2016 Digital Eye Strain Report; 2016.

Digital eye stain is defined as a variety of symptoms that manifest due to the prolonged exposure to computers, smart phones, and/or tablets.  These include, but are not limited to: asthenopia, eye strain, burning sensation, difficulty refocusing from one distance to another, grittiness, dry eyes, blurred vision, headaches, sensitivity to lights, irritation, itchiness, ocular discomfort, tired eyes, neck/shoulder/back pain, diplopia, redness, soreness, and visual fatigue.

There are other contributing factors to digital eye strain, formerly known as computer vision syndrome.  The surface of the eye should be as smooth as glass to properly focus.  Blinking and proper tear film maintenance are essential to keeping the eye comfortable while on the computer.  It is well established that blink rates are reduced during concentrated computer screen use and for handheld video games.  Prolonged focusing and intense luminance levels also can cause visual fatigue.

Most of the time, patients do not have bring up the subject of discomfort while visiting with their eye doctor.  The perception is that digital eye stain is becoming the norm.  Thanks to upgrades in contact lenses, digitally surfaced lens designs, and anti-reflective coatings, eye care professionals are best suited to help treat digital eye strain.  Talk to yours today.

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