Digital device use in America is on the rise, and the mounting reliance on tablets and smartphones is only expected to intensify. In a 2012 survey conducted by The Vision Council, more than one third of U.S. adults spend four to six hours a day on electronic devices, and 14% report daily use at 10 to 12 hours. Devices studied for the report, “Screens, Phones, Tablets, and More: Keeping Your Eyes Safe in a Digital Age,” include televisions, desktop and laptop computers, smartphones, e-readers and tablets, and gaming systems.
"Digital devices are an important part of our everyday lives, from business and recreation, to socialization and even education," said Ed Greene, CEO of The Vision Council. "But, this behavior can also be very strenuous on our eyes. Simple precautions can prevent the discomfort that many Americans experience while using popular devices."
Digital eye strain is defined by a collective set of physical symptoms, including eye redness or irritation, dry eyes, blurred vision, eye fatigue, back, neck and shoulder pain and headaches. Individuals may also experience eye fatigue and strain as a result of blue light waves that are emitted from digital electronic screens.
Symptoms often occur as a result of prolonged device use, but can also be a product of an individual's environment. Intense overhead lighting, poor posture and chair positioning can all lead to digital eye strain.
More women than men experience symptoms of digital eye strain, and symptoms are more common in adults under 55, regardless of gender. Despite the fact that more than two-thirds of Americans experience digital eye strain, many do nothing to lessen their discomfort.
"For individuals with digital-oriented jobs, I recommend using computer eyewear to alleviate eye strain," said Justin Bazan, OD, member of the Better Vision Institute. "Computer eyewear products use special lenses and tints to reduce screen glare and improve contrast."
To prevent and alleviate digital eye strain, The Vision Council outlines key items to consider while using electronics:
- Use the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and look at something 20 feet away.
- Consider using computer eyewear to help combat eye strain.
- Create an ergonomically-friendly work station, even when working remote, with proper lighting, seat adjustments, and monitor settings.
- Remember to blink; staring at any screen for too long can dry eyes.