The Vision Council Shines Light on Protecting Sight – and Health – in a Multi-screen Era
Alexandria, VA (Jan. 7, 2019) – With an increase in digital technology—most vibrantly seen at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which begins tomorrow in Las Vegas—more than half of American adults suffer adverse effects from overexposure to screens. The Vision Council calls this collection of symptoms digital eye strain.
According to its annual VisionWatch survey, close to 49 percent of American adults say they don't know what digital eye strain is, and nearly 35 percent aren't concerned about the impact of digital device usage on their eyes.
Ignorance, however, isn't bliss when it comes to the eyes and overall health—especially when there are eyewear and contact lens solutions readily available to combat digital eye strain.
Increasing Screen Habits
Americans are spending more time staring at a variety of screens—think those of desktop computer monitors, laptops, tablets and smartphones. More than 80 percent of adults report using digital devices for over two hours per day, and nearly 67 percent say they use two or more devices simultaneously. Moreover, close to 55 percent report looking at some type of screen in the first hour they're awake, and nearly 80 percent say they use digital devices in the hour just before going to sleep.
So what's wrong with that? Dr. Justin Bazan, optometrist and medical adviser to The Vision Council, has the answer.
"Based on my experience and research, the light emitted from screens may be linked to issues with sleep, not to mention recurrent headaches, issues seeing content on a screen, and red, itchy and dry eyes," says Dr. Bazan. "Regardless of whether my patients are experiencing these problems associated with prolonged digital device usage, it's important for individuals to make their eye health—especially as it relates to digital eye strain—a priority. Our eyes weren't designed to look at digital devices, let alone as much as we all do in this era. So, it's key to be proactive about mitigating the effects of digital devices on our eyes."
Adults and Digital Eye Strain
When asked, nearly six out of 10 American adults report digital eye strain symptoms, including:
- Neck/shoulder pain (35 percent)
- Headaches (27.7 percent)
- Eye strain (32.4 percent)
- Blurred vision (27.9 percent)
- Dry eyes (27.2 percent)
Children and Digital Eye Strain
Besides playing outside, parents indicate their children's favorite activities are playing on a digital device (23.1 percent) and watching TV (20.1 percent). While more than 70 percent of American adults say their children are exposed to two or more hours of screen time per day, 1/4 of parents are "not concerned" about the impact of digital devices on their children's developing eyes.
Those parents reporting symptoms related to digital eye strain say their children experience the following after two or more hours of screen time:
- Reduced attention span (15.2 percent)
- Irritability (13.5 percent)
- Poor behavior (13.3 percent)
- Eye strain, dry or irritated eyes (9.1 percent)
- Headaches (8.8 percent)
- Neck/shoulder pain (5 percent)
Solutions are Easy to See
Nearly seven out of 10 American adults report they didn't know glasses with lenses to combat digital eye strain existed—with 87 percent saying the same regarding contact lenses. Dr. Bazan debunks these misconceptions.
"Digital screens are a ubiquitous part of modern life, and it's up to each of us to be proactive and make good choices to protect our eyes and our overall health," explains Dr. Bazan. "That starts with seeing an eyecare provider to discuss digital eye strain solutions available—which include both eyewear and contact lenses specially crafted for digital device usage."
Glasses with traditional lenses—featuring blue light-filtering and anti-reflective capabilities, plus a lens magnification in some instances to make text easier to read—are available to help reduce the symptoms of digital eye strain. These lenses can be incorporated into almost any pair of frames—available in endless styles and price points so individuals don't have to sacrifice their style or budget—through any eyecare provider. Additionally, complete eyewear—with lenses with these capabilities already built in—are available over the counter. If individuals prefer contact lenses, specialized versions designed to protect the eyes from digital devices are also available.
The Vision Council recommends that adults—and children—visit an eyecare provider annually to discuss their screen habits and digital eye strain solutions. Only 20.5 percent of American adults confirm having an annual eye exam and discussing digital device usage, and about 30 percent report the same regarding their children. Think About Your Eyes—a campaign dedicated to raising public awareness of the importance of an annual eye exam—makes finding an eyecare provider easy with its robust eye doctor locator.
Tips for Good Eye Health
In addition to glasses with traditional lenses and contact lenses, other "eye-gonomic" tips to relieve digital eye strain include:
- Take frequent breaks from staring at digital devices
- When at a computer, position one's self a full arm's distance away from the screen
- Increase font sizes, reduce brightness and sharpen contrast on screens
- Reduce overhead lighting to eliminate screen glare
For more information about digital eye strain, visit thevisioncouncil.org/des.
About The Vision Council
Championing better vision for better lives, The Vision Council positions its members for success by promoting growth in the vision care industry through education, advocacy, research, consumer outreach, strategic relationship building and industry forums. By sharing the latest in eyewear trends, advances in technology and advice from eyewear experts, The Vision Council serves as a resource to the public looking to learn more about options in eyeglasses and sunglasses.
VisionWatch, The Vision Council's 17-year running study of the U.S. ophthalmic market, is a consumer survey of a statistically balanced sample representative of the adult U.S. population, and produces more than 10,000 new interviews each month regarding eyecare and eyewear experiences, purchases and habits. The above data derives from its July 2018 survey.