First there was the Internet and the need for a business website. Then there was social media and the need to connect at all times. Then there was the smartphone””and everything changed.

Today, two-thirds of Americans own smartphones””a number that’s doubled in just four years””according to Pew Research. And nearly 30% of owners are “smartphone dependent,” meaning their phone is their primary, or only, source of information access.

How are people using their phones? Just name it. Pew says that 68% use them to keep abreast of breaking news; 62% use them to research health conditions; 57% use them to do online banking; 45% use them while shopping to do price checks; 30% use them for navigation. The list of smartphone uses is literally endless. It’s become the Swiss Army Knife of the 21st century.

This phenomenon is meaningful for optical people in several ways:

First, there’s the issue of over-exposure to blue light. As most
of us know, blue light occurs naturally in sunlight. In fact, in this form, blue light is actually contributive to mental alertness and a sense of well-being. But we humans have ratcheted up blue light consumption thanks to fluorescent lighting, computer and TV screens, and””you guessed it””mobile devices. In fact, as some have estimated that the typical smartphone user spends about seven hours a day looking at that little screen, so the majority of blue light exposure no doubt comes from that source.

High energy blue light reduces visual performance and causes digital eyestrain. It very likely increases one’s risk of age-related macular degeneration. And it can have a deleterious effect on one’s sleep cycle and overall health. Fortunately, there is now a plethora of vision care products on the market to protect digital device users from the dangers of blue light. (We got on board, too””check out the Blue Light + Vision supplement on

Second, if this is where most of the eyeballs are going, doesn’t it make sense to make sure your digital marketing (website and social media pages) can accommodate that tiny screen? There are now agencies that exclusively specialize in mobile device advertising.

Third, if there’s one group in the U.S. (and elsewhere) that has a smartphone welded to its palm, it’s the Millennials””marketing’s newest, most coveted target. Not surprisingly, 85% of young adults (ages 18 to 29) are smartphone owners and they constitute the most frequent users. This is the market that Warby Parker has pursued very effectively and the next major vision care consumer collective.

It’s a smartphone world. Be there or be square.

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