The first thing many people see in the morning is their smartphone—The Vision Council’s Digital Eye Strain report showed that 55% use one as an alarm clock. Email and reading news make this device an integral part of morning routines. Many people then go to work and sit in front of their computer until close of business. Returning home, laptops, tablets and smartphones remain a part of life.
The AOA’s Eye-Q survey in 2016 showed the role screens play in our life. A 61% majority use multiple devices simultaneously, with 58% saying they experience digital eyestrain or fatigue as a result of screen time. I see patients who think they have a serious vision problem when their vision is blurry and they have a headache at the end of the work day. However, they don’t usually consider time spent on digital devices as the cause. The visual demands of holding a smartphone at a shorter working distance are far greater than a book.
Educating patients on the causes and ways to alleviate eye fatigue should be an important part of every patient’s annual eye exam.
Patients need to be aware of the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This gives eyes a break from focusing on items in close range. Dimming screen light can also alleviate symptoms. Using lamps rather than overhead light can reduce screen glare. Keeping devices at least an arm’s length away helps eyes with focusing. Also discuss the benefits of anti-reflective lenses for reducing digital eyestrain.
An annual eye exam provides the perfect opportunity to check in with patients about their screen time and device habits, which is why I’m proud to support Think About Your Eyes and the importance of annual eye exams.