70 percent of adults report ‘digital eye strain’

Daily News Article   —   Posted on January 13, 2014

image1236(by Brian Alexander, NBC News) –  …A new survey finds 70 percent of users [of desktop, laptop, tablet, TV, phone] screens report some level of eye discomfort dubbed “digital eye strain.”

Symptoms included dry eyes, blurry vision, fatigue and neck and shoulder cramping. The survey released Thursday by the Vision Council, a trade group for makers of eye care products, warned of serious long-term eye risk. …

Here, readers might pause to blink.

The intense stare is part of what makes screens so hard on the eyes, said Dr. Joshua L. Dunaief, associate professor of ophthalmology at the University of Pennsylvania’s Scheie Eye Institute, who has no connection to the Vision Council.

“We don’t blink as much when using screens,” Dunaief told NBC News, “because the blink response is suppressed. So we don’t spread tears across our eyes and they wind up drying out.”

The solution, he said, is to blink every 10 seconds or so.

The vision council is promoting another solution at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas: special lenses made for looking at screens. But while there may be hype in the push for “computer glasses,” the survey does point out some very real hazards of spending hours looking at screens.

The survey of 7,160 adults in the United States, taken online in October, found that 60 percent of respondents said they spent at least six hours looking at screens daily, and 28 percent reported viewing screens for 10 hours or more. Seventy percent reported eye discomfort in the poll administered by Survey Sample International using a statistically balanced sample.

“I see what I would consider a normal patient population, representative of the average experience most people are having,” Brooklyn optometrist Justin Bazan, a paid consultant to the Vision Council. “And the problem is that they think [such strain] is normal. It’s so common and pervasive, they consider it a cost of doing business. They don’t know there are things you can do” to prevent it.

Other steps to make our screen addictions easier on our eyes include positioning desktop screens at about arm’s length without any tilt, holding small screens slightly below eye level, eliminating glare from screens, and looking away from screens for a short time at least every 20 minutes.

Of course, as many recent studies have pointed out, you can, and should, get out of your chair and walk around. That’s not only good for your eyes, but your cardiovascular system, too.
Dunaief suggested another solution for anybody worried their constant screen time might lead to later eye disease… – turn down the intensity of the screens to the lowest comfortable setting.

“Adjusting the light on the screen ought to reduce whatever risk may exist,” he said.

Reprinted here for educational purposes only. May not be reproduced on other websites without permission from NBC News. Visit the website at nbcnews. com.