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Digital Eye Strain

It’s hard to visualize how the digital world will look by the end of the decade but one thing is certain: the rate of technological change will continue to thrive. The technologies that have been shaping our lives for 10 years are just the dawning of an Information Age that emerges ever faster before our eyes. And possibly to the detriment of your eyes. Get set for so much more than flashier phones and eighth or ninth generation iPads. In the future, mobile technology will be central to the way we live our lives. Unfortunately, digital eyestrain will as well.

Digital eye strain is the physical discomfort felt after two or more hours in front of a digital screen and is associated with the close to mid-range distance of digital screens, including desktop and laptop computers, tablets, e-readers and Smartphone’s.

Symptoms of digital eye strain include physical discomfort such as dry, irritated eyes, headaches, eye fatigue, neck or back pain and blurred vision.

Patient’s underestimate how their technology use may be contributing to eye strain and often don’t consider ways to reduce this stress. If you use your phone as an alarm clock for example, you have a digital device the second your eyes are open. People typically hold small devices 8-12 inches away from their face. This distance increases the amount of eye muscle contraction necessary to see clearly causing eye fatigue and results in decreased blink rates. This is important because blinking is crucial to keeping the ocular surface well protected and from drying out. Typically blink rates are reduced from once every 6 seconds to once every 15 seconds with digital device activities. As a result, your eyes become dry and irritated and blurred vision typically follows.

The Vision Council’s Digital Eye Strain Report of surveyed10,000 people and revealed:

• 65% of people experience digital eye strain.

• If you use only 1 device your chance of having digital eyestrain is 53%.

• If you use 2 or more your chance of having digital eye strain is 75%.

• 1 out of 10 people spend ¾ of their time awake using a device (18 hrs!).

• 70% of women experience problems, 60% of men.

• The way people use their digital devices and their risk for eye strain varies widely by age group.

• 20-29 year olds: 87% use two or more devices simultaneously and 73% showed symptoms of digital eye strain.

• 30-39 year olds: 67% spend 5 or more hours each day on a digital device and 69% reported symptoms of digital eyestrain

• 40-49 year olds: 66% reported digital eye strain

• 50-59 year olds: 64% reported digital eye strain

• 60-69 year olds : 53% reported digital eye strain

How can you minimize digital eye strain?

Wear computer specific eyewear and glasses with lens options that can help reduce symptoms of digital eye strain, block blue light, and improve vision. Follow the 20-20-20 rule: Take a 20 second break from the screen every 20 minutes and look at something 20 feet away. Build an optically optimal workspace to mitigate outside irritants. For example, reduce overhead lighting to eliminate glare. In addition, make sure your computer is at least an arm’s length away and is positioned such that you are looking down at a 15 to 20 degree angle. This relaxes some of your eye muscles.

If you have any questions concerning digital eye strain, please contact our office in Stillwater at 405-372-1715. We also invite you to visit our website at www.cockrelleyecare.comand like us on Facebook at Cockrell Eye Care Center!