How much time do you spend in front of a screen each day? According to a survey of American adults conducted by The Vision Council, over one-third of adults admitted to spending between four and six hours a day using a digital gadget of some sort. The report of the survey’s findings, “Screens, Phones, Tablets and More: Keeping Your Eyes Safe in a Digital Age,” further revealed that 14 percent of adults said they spend as much as 12 hours a day using such devices.
While those statistics are hard to swallow, what doctors find even more troubling is that patients are often unaware of the adverse affects all that screen time can have on their eyes, both now and later on in life. A major point of concern for practitioners is digital eye strain.
Digital eye strain is a result of the constant need for the eyes to “refocus and reposition to process content like graphics and text” on digital devices. As many as 70 percent of American adults have experienced a form of it, but more than 70 percent aren’t even aware that they could suffer from digital eye strain, the study revealed. The condition usually presents itself in one or a combination of symptoms like:
- Redness or irritation of the eyes
- Dry eyes
- Blurred vision from screen glare
- Headaches (associated with repeated digital eye strain)
- General fatigue, and neck and back pain (associated with repeated digital eye strain)
Fortunately, there are a few practical steps to recommend to your patients that they can easily integrate into their daily routines to keep symptoms at bay. These include making sure you have a proper workstation set up and investigating and addressing environmental factors. Encourage your patients to practice “smartphone eyegonomics,” such as enlarging the font size and holding your phone just below eye level (Mashable). Additionally, some patients may want to consider computer glasses that have a special coating to help reduce light reflection.
Are you currently discussing digital eye strain with your patients? Are the symptoms of digital eye strain a common complaint among them? If so, tell us your strategies for explaining the issue and helping patients cope with it in a comment below.