Digital Devices and Eye Strain

Digital Discomfort

iPads, iPhones, iPods, Tablets, Laptops, Desktops…the list of digital devices that we use on a daily basis is long. The average American spends 5 hours and 46 minutes a day on a digital device. That is more than 38 hours a week! It’s no surprise that our eyes are more tired and uncomfortable with all of this screen time. The good news is that there are actions you can take and products that are available that can make those long hours clearer and more comfortable. Here are the facts:

    • The Blink : We blink on average 15 times a minute, however with computer use, our blink rate drops to an average of just 7 times a minute. This decrease in blink rate is problematic as with each blink, our eyes are coated with a fresh layer of tears. Tears are responsible for protecting our cornea from the environment and for providing clear vision. Fewer blinks means dryer eyes and dryer eyes result in discomfort and blurred vision.
    • Tired Muscles: When our eyes focus on a computer screen or tablet, the ciliary muscles within the eyes flex to pull words into focus. These muscles remain flexed for each of those 5 hours and 46 minutes of the day that we use the computer! It’s not a surprise that our eyes feel tired at the end of the day.
    • The Glare: All-day exposure to an illuminated screen not only causes eyestrain, but can also impact sleep patterns. Also consider that many people who use a computer do so under fluorescent lighting, which when reflected off monitors, induces more glare and discomfort.
    • Your Neck: Let’s consider your head, neck, shoulder and back position for those 5 plus hours. Computer users wearing bifocals and progressive lenses often resemble circus contortionists, attempting to find and use the proper part of their lenses. That makes for a sore neck at the end of the day!
    • Your Future Eyes:
      A study of 5000 people, published in 2014 in the Journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, showed that greater than 50% of college graduates were near-sighted as compared with less than 25% of high school graduates. A greater amount of time spent by college graduates doing near vision tasks (reading and computer use) has been blamed for this degradation of vision.

So what is the solution? Computer and mobile phone use are an essential part of work and home life. It’s difficult to minimize the time we spend utilizing this great technology. Fortunately, new lens designs and anti-reflective treatments designed for our tech-centric lifestyles offer greater comfort and clarity.

Anti-Reflective Treatments: Many people have unfortunately experienced the annoyance of terrible glare treatments on their eyeglasses. Poor quality coatings smudge easily and flake, creating an irregular surface on the lens and greater glare. Better quality anti-glare treatments perform much better and are more resistant to smudging and scratching. These warranted products are terrific for everyday use. However, there are new anti-reflective products that minimize glare AND block uncomfortable blue light from digital devices. They have proven highly successful in providing greater visual comfort for long hours of computer use.

The Proper Lens for the Proper Task: A very wise man once said “Any task is easy if you have the proper tools.” A very common problem amongst eyeglass wearers is the use of the wrong lens type and prescription for the wrong task. Did you know that if you are over the age of 50, it is highly unlikely that the eyeglass prescription you need to drive is the same as the prescription you need for reading? Furthermore, the prescription you require for reading is not the same as the prescription you need for the computer! Progressive lenses worn for everyday use, are not the proper “tool” for all-day computer users. There is an array of lenses designed especially for computer users. Also within the last year, several lens manufacturers have introduced lenses specifically for mobile phone users. Consider the number of times a day that you look down at your phone and back up to something further in the distance. Each time you perform this action the muscles in your eyes contract and relax. That’s a tough workout for your eyes!

20/20/20…Blink: Lastly, changes in your visuals habits can impact your visual comfort and clarity. The 20/20/20 Rule is a good rule of thumb for digital device aficionados. Every 20 minutes, gaze 20 feet away, for 20 seconds….and don’t forget to blink!

Optometrists are specialists in vision. Our expertise guides us in prescribing the appropriate prescription for the appropriate task. Together with our knowledgeable Opticians, we select the proper frame and lens options for the specific needs of each of our patients. Visit SeaView Eyecare today and ask us how we can help you achieve clear, comfortable vision all day long!

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