Two-thirds of Americans suffering from digital eye strain, warns Vision Council

Digital eye strain
dotshock/Shutterstock
Do you have a crick in your neck, a sore shoulder, or an aching back? Maybe your eyes are dry, your vision is blurry at the end of the day, or you have a persistent headache that just won’t quit? These are all symptoms of digital eye strain, reported by 65 percent of Americans, according to a new report from The Vision Council entitled Eyes Overexposed: Digital Device Dilemma.

For many of us, it may feel as though most of our day is spent staring at one screen or another, and it could be taking a toll on our eyesight. More than 10,000 adults were surveyed for the report and it found that 90 percent of Americans use digital devices for at least two hours a day, 60 percent use them for five or more hours a day, and 70 percent use two or more devices at once. For those of you reading this on your phone in front of the TV, that will come as little surprise.

“Our eyes are not built to stare at digital screens all day, but the demands of our modern-day world frequently put us in front of a computer, working from our smartphones, and reading on our tablets for hours on end,” says optometrist Dr. Justin Bazan. “As a result, many of us are living with tired, sore and fatigued eyes, and even headaches — all symptoms of digital eye strain.”

The report paints a predictable picture of increasing smartphone usage overall, with 76 percent of respondents looking at their digital devices in the hour before sleep, 83 percent of those in their 20s using their smartphone as an alarm clock, and 96 percent of adults using digital devices to find recipes.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the highest rates of digital eye strain are found in the younger generation who report the highest usage. A full 73 percent of adults under 30 report digital eye strain symptoms and 87 percent of people in their 20s use two or more devices at once.

Interestingly, more women than men report symptoms, possibly because they’re more likely to multitask and simultaneously use multiple devices. The report states that, on average, 75 percent of people who use two or more devices simultaneously report experiencing symptoms of digital eye strain compared to just 53 percent of people who use one device at a time.

While symptoms like blurred vision or eye fatigue should fade when eyes are rested, there are also concerns about the long-term impact of too much screen time. The report links blue light exposure to age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.

The Vision Council is trying to raise awareness after finding that a third of Americans who are aware of the dangers still don’t take steps to protect themselves. There is lens technology that reduces the glare and blocks blue light. We have tried out some of the protective eyewear options out there, such as Jins Meme or Gauss Glasses, and they’re certainly worth considering for anyone suffering from digital eye strain symptoms.

“When using technology, many think suffering with digital eye strain is a necessary evil, but it doesn’t have to be,” explains Bazan. “If you are experiencing vision issues while using digital devices, talk with your eye care provider to see if computer eyewear or another solution would be right for you.”

The Vision Council also suggests that we modify the way we use our devices. Tilting our heads down to view our phones, like you might do when you’re holding the phone under the table, puts added pressure and weight on your neck. It’s best to keep handheld devices at a comfortable distance and just below eye level. Most of us also lean forward to peer at our computer screens, when you should really try to maintain an arm’s length of distance.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that bright overhead lights or background lighting often causes our devices to automatically increase screen brightness, potentially causing more damage. On the other hand, working on a computer in a darkened room can force our eyes to keep readjusting. We should strive for a happy medium where room lighting matches device brightness.

The 20-20-20 rule can help make a difference. Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and look at something 20 feet away. If you’re still suffering symptoms of digital eye strain it may be time to schedule an eye exam. You can find the full report at The Vision Council website.

Product Review

Want to see how powerful the Snapdragon 855 chip is? Just rev up the Xiaomi Mi 9

How fast do you want to go? If the answer to this is “as fast as possible,” then take a long look at the Xiaomi Mi 9. It’s one of the highest performance smartphones you can buy. It’s a real monster, and we’ve been using it.
Product Review

Chris is the virtual co-pilot phone-obsessives need in their car

Driving while using your phone is dangerous, and often illegal. Meet Chris, the digital assistant for your car that wants to help keep your hands off your phone, and your eyes on the road.
Mobile

Whether by the pool or the sea, make a splash with the best waterproof phones

Whether you're looking for a phone you can use in the bath, or you just want that extra peace of mind, waterproof phones are here and they're amazing. Check out our selection of the best ones you can buy.
Computing

Calibrate your display to get it looking just the way you like it

Want to see images the way they're intended to be seen? Here is our quick guide on how to calibrate your monitor using your operating system or another tool, to make what's on the screen look as good as it can.
Mobile

Scientists wreck a smartphone in a blender, but not just for fun

It’s oddly mesmerizing to watch a smartphone get torn apart inside a blender. Researchers recently did just that in a bid to find out which materials make up a handset, and also to encourage people to think more about recycling.
Movies & TV

Apple’s next big event is minutes away: Here’s what you can expect

Apple's next big event takes place on March 25 in Cupertino, California. The company is expected to make several announcements related to its services, including Apple TV, so follow our guide to get ready for the big event.
Wearables

This $76,000 Grand Seiko watch has something in common with a plug-in hybrid car

How can a watch that costs $76,000 possibly have anything in a common with any car, let alone a plug-in hybrid? It's all about the complex, technically incredible Spring Drive movement inside this Grand Seiko watch.
Deals

The excellent Apple iPad gets even deeper price cuts on Amazon

The humble iPad from 2018 is still one of the best tablets around -- and a solid choice for most people. Amazon has seen some great price drops for these tablets recently, and now you can own an iPad for even less than before.
Mobile

More than a screenshot: How to record the screen on an Android device

If you've ever want to record video of your Android screen, there are plenty of apps that can help. Here's an easy guide on how to record the screen on an Android device with the right settings and apps.
Apple

Apple March 2019 Event Coverage

Apple’s next event will take place March 25 at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California at 10 a.m. PT. We’ve got a handy guide on how to watch, but don’t expect to see any new iPads, iMacs, or AirPods at the show, all of…
Mobile

Apple Card is a credit card you can sign up for and start using with your iPhone

Apple is getting into the credit card business. Apple Card is a credit card you can sign up for directly on your iPhone, and it doesn't have fees. There's a lower interest rate and you can even get Daily Cash from all purchases.
Gaming

Apple Arcade might be the new game subscription service worth signing up for

Apple Arcade will launch this fall bringing a new game-subscription service with cross-platform support for iOS, Mac, and Apple TV. At launch, the service will feature more than 100 exclusive games, with more added to the service regularly.
Mobile

Check out 22 of the best iPhone 7 cases and covers for your shiny new phone

The iPhone 7 might be attractive, but it’s not rugged. To keep your device in pristine condition, you really need to think about proper protection. That's why we've rounded up some of the best iPhone 7 cases and covers available.
Mobile

Apple's iOS 12.2 brings support for Apple News Plus and new AirPlay 2 features

After months of betas, the final version of iOS 12 is here to download. The latest OS comes along with tons of new capabilities, from grouped notifications to Siri Shortcuts. Here are all the features you'll find in iOS 12.