What The Digital Age Is Doing To Your Eyes

A new report by the Vision Council finds that nearly 70-percent of adults in the U.S. experience digital eye strain. Yet, almost half of adults don't know how to or have never tried to reduce their visual discomfort.

"More and more people (are) getting into trouble with the computer. Part of it is also the increasing supply of digital devices."

Texas optometrist Dr. Albert Pang says digital electronics emit a form of blue light that causes our eyes to refract. That's when light passes from a fast medium to a slow one.

He says another thing to consider:

"The baby boomer is getting more mature. Our eyes (are) also getting weaker, and then as you get into life beyond 40, your eye muscles getting weaker, especially doing close-up work."

That focus on objects at an intermediate distance, like a computer or smartphone, ultimately fatigues the eyes and causes strain.

Pang says the Vision Council found that many Americans average 6-9 hours per day in front of digital devices.

"And this is more to do with kids. They are actually doing computer games for long stretch of time. We're talking about 2-3 hours straight, instead of just looking at if for 15 minutes, half an hour, so the duration increases."

And it's not uncommon for suffers to experience headaches and nagging back pain in addition to blurred vision.

Dr. Bill Quayle is with Houston Eye Associates, the largest ophthalmology clinic in Texas.

"The computer kind of draws you in. You're just totally unaware of it, it's like a vacuum, kind of sucking you in and uh, people don't like to stop. They get involved into something and it's just part of life now for them."

While the optical industry has made great strides to develop lens technologies to address the causes of digital eye strain:

"We really don't have the studies that really define problems associated with computer use as clearly as we'd like to have it. Does it really affect macular disease? Does it affect cataracts? We do know that dryness is a factor, there's no question about that. We know that the combination is strain, particularly if you're adequately not treated with the proper glasses."

Dr. Quayle says you can reduce strain by positioning screens at arm's length, holding handheld devices below eye-level to eliminate glare, and taking short breaks from looking at screens as often as possible.

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