Digital Eye Strain

Problems & Conditions

Problems & Conditions

Technology May Make Life Easier, But It Isn't Necessarily Easier On The Eyes

The Vision Council Shares Reported Symptoms of Prolonged Screen Usage, Plus Tips to Alleviate Digital Eye Strain

Alexandria, VA (January 8, 2018) – Every year countless new devices outfitted with digital screens are unveiled to make our lives easier. But could these devices be putting added strain on our eyes? Newly released VisionWatch survey results from The Vision Council show more than 83% of Americans report using digital devices for more than two hours per day, and 60.5% report experiencing symptoms as a result.

Tech: We've Become Dependent on It

Technology has seeped into almost every aspect of our daily lives, and Americans can't seem to keep their eyes off an ever-growing array of devices with activities becoming increasingly digitized. Among key findings from the 2017 VisionWatch survey, Americans are especially tied to the following:

  • Computer: An average 75.6% of respondents regularly use a computer to research, 54.2% to shop online, 48.7% to find a recipe, 36.2% to check social media and 26.7% to play games;
  • Smartphone: An average 58.2% of respondents regularly use a smartphone to get directions, 56.6% to serve as an alarm clock, 53.7% to check the weather, 38.1% to check social media and 25.8% to play games;
  • Television: An average 32.2% of respondents use television to get the news, 16% to keep track of professional sports and 14% to check the weather.

Digital Eye Strain Affects Adults and Children Alike

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," explains 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%), dry eyes (22.7%), headache (21.4%), blurred vision (22%), and neck and shoulder pain (30.8%).

Children are especially susceptible to these symptoms, plus reduced attention span, poor behavior and irritability. 72% of adults report their child(ren) gets more than two hours of screen time per day, with 30.1% reporting their child(ren) experiences symptoms of digital eye strain and 74.4% being somewhat or very concerned about the impact of digital devices on their child(ren). Despite this, just 24.6% of parents say they make an annual eye exam for their child(ren) as part of back-to-school preparation.

Potentially Harmful Screen Use? Proper Eyewear to the Rescue!

Here's a final eye-opening statistic: 72.6% 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 treatments, blue-light filtering capabilities and more to help reduce the symptoms associated with digital eye strain. However, individuals don't have to sacrifice style for function when it comes to eyewear. These specialized lenses can be incorporated into virtually any pair of frames, so individuals can choose eyewear that complements their personal look, while meeting their eye health needs. If individuals prefer contact lenses, there are products available specifically for digital device usage.

In addition to eyewear and contact lens solutions, some other "eye-gonomic" tips to relieve digital eye strain include:

  • Taking frequent breaks from looking at screens, giving the eyes an opportunity to blink more, since they typically blink less while staring at screens;
  • Reducing overhead lighting to eliminate screen glare;
  • Positioning one's self at arm's distance away from a screen for proper viewing distance;
  • Increasing text size on devices to better define content on screens.

But Don't Forget an Annual Eye Exam...

The Vision Council recommends adults and children visit a local eyecare provider annually for an eye exam to not only have their eyes checked, but to also discuss their digital habits, potential symptoms and the solutions available.

"There are some very simple steps you can take to protect your eyes – from requesting anti-reflective and blue light-filtering lenses in your eyewear, to incorporating healthier habits into daily activities. It begins with awareness, and it can save your sight," says Dr. Bazan. "But the first step should always be to have your eyes examined by a professional who can make proper recommendations for keeping your eye health in check."

Need to find an eyecare provider near you? Think About Your Eyes – a campaign dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of an annual eye exam – has you covered. Check out their eye doctor locator, here.

For more information on digital eye strain, the 2017 survey and tips for keeping your eyes healthy, please visit thevisioncouncil.org/des.

About The Vision Council

Championing better vision for better lives, The Vision Council positions its members for success by promoting robust 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.

About VisionWatch

VisionWatch, The Vision Council's 15-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 2017 survey.

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