A couple of months ago, I wrote about my trials and tribulations trying to get my new iPhone 6+ delivered. Shortly after I wrote that column, it arrived at my door and customer service at my provider improved immeasurably. EVERYONE at my provider wanted to know if it was delivered, if I liked it and if there was anything I needed.
I love the phone. I love the phone too much. I’m on it ALL the time. I rarely use it as a phone – ironic – so it’s more of a mini laptop or tablet. I text, return emails, scroll through Twitter and Facebook, look up recipes, use it for my shopping lists and read news articles on it. I can adjust the text size, and have, but I’ve noticed that my eyes get a little scratchy and blurry at the end of the day and my shoulders are slumped.
A report titled “Hindsight is 20/20/20: Protect Your Eyes from Digital Devices” was issued Jan. 7 by the Vision Council. It finds that nearly 95 percent of Americans spend two or more hours every day on digital devices. They permeate all aspects of our personal lives – from waking to exercising to cooking.
“On average, we look at our mobile phones more than 100 times a day, yet people aren’t making the connection how this constant use of technology is impacting vision health,” said Dora Adamopoulos, OD, medical adviser to the Vision Council.
Digital eye strain – experienced by a majority of American adults – is characterized as temporary 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. It is marked by symptoms such as redness, irritation or dry eyes, blurred vision, eye fatigue, back and neck pain and headaches. Several environmental factors can contribute to fostering the condition, including the small size of the text on screens; time spent staring at devices; posture; computer setup; existing, untreated vision issues; and the blue light emitted from digital screens and lighting.
The report also highlights emerging research on blue light overexposure, also referred to as high-energy visible or HEV light. Blue light is emitted from backlit displays of our devices, LED and fluorescent light bulbs and even the sun, and is an increasing cause for concern among eye care providers who are worried about the potential long-term impact on vision health. Because blue light can reach deeper into the eye than ultraviolet light, specific wavelengths may damage the retina.
According to the Vision Council, recent evidence points to a possible link between exposure to blue light and long-term vision issues such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts.
“Many people assume digital eye strain is an unavoidable part of living in a digital world, but there are simple ways to ease the strain on eyes,” said Mike Daley, CEO of The Vision Council.
Lens technologies used in computer eyewear specially are designed for optimizing and protecting vision when viewing content on screens and can be provided with or without a prescription.
In addition to computer eyewear, here are some tips from The Vision Council:
Remember the 20/20/20 rule: every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break from the screen and look at something 20 feet away.
Build an optimal workspace to mitigate outside stressors. This includes ideal lighting, comfortable computer screen height and good posture.
Increase the text size on your devices to better define the content on your screen.
Visit an eye care provider to learn more about computer eyewear and lens options that can help reduce symptoms of digital eye strain and improve vision.
Annual eye exams are a part of healthy vision maintenance and should be considered for both adults and children.
As new technology and personal protective equipment help us reduce the number of eye injuries suffered in the manufacturing and construction environments, it’s time to turn our attention to eye concerns created by digital devices.
As a way to celebrate Workplace Eye Wellness Month in March, I suggest downloading the Vision Council report at https://www.thevisioncouncil.org/sites/default/files/VC_DigitalEyeStrain_Report2015.pdf