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70% of U.S. Reporting Computer-Related Eye Problems

by Fox Van Allen on January 10, 2014

I appreciate you taking the time to read this. Just be sure to blink while doing it.

According to a Survey Sample International poll, 70 percent of the U.S. reports some amount of digital eyestrain from using our electronics use that could develop into serious problems later on. Vision Council, an eye industry trade group, sponsored the poll.

As Americans, we spend so much time looking at screens these days. 60% of us report using devices for at least 6 hours per day in the survey, while 28% report using screens for 10 hours or more per day. According to eye doctors, that’s beginning to put our ocular health at risk.

“Eye care providers are noting a steady rise in the number of patients with screen-related eye strain, whose complaints include dry, irritated eyes; blurred vision; and head, neck and back pain,” the Vision Council report explains. Already, there has been a 35% increase in advancing myopia since smartphones were introduced in 1997. Exposure to high-energy visible light from your computers and smartphones is also thought to cause long-term problems like cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.

The good news is that protecting your eyes from strain couldn’t be easier – or cheaper. Dr. Joshua L. Dunaief recommends to NBC News that we need to avoid staring at our devices and remember to blink our eyes at least once every 10 seconds. “We don’t blink as much using screens because the blink response is suppressed,” Dunaief explains. “So we don’t spread tears across our eyes and they wind up drying out.”

Also, for every 20 minutes of using your computer, look into the distance for 20 seconds to allow your eyes a chance to refocus. And after two hours of continuous use, make sure you take a 15 minute break.

The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends screens be located 20 to 28 inches from your eyes during use, and about 15 to 20 degrees below eye level (4 to 5 inches). Wearing a pair of tinted glasses like the designed-for-computer-use Gunnar Optiks can also help. “Special lens designs, lens powers or lens tints or coatings may help to maximize visual abilities and comfort,” the AOA says.

Younger children should avoid illuminated screens entirely in their early development. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents “discourage screen media exposure” for children under 2.

[Woman with headache via Shutterstock]


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Discussion loading


From Michael Starrels MD on January 13, 2014 :: 11:36 am

I enjoyed the topic, but I found a lot of pseudo science.  Cataract and Macular Degeneration development from computer screen use is truly far-fetched conjecture and unsubstantiated by clinical scientific research. 

On the other hand, eyestrain, fatigue and secondary dryness are real issues and are partially addressed in the ways talked about in the article.  Underlying dryness needs to be treated medically and may be a warning of other problems.  Eyestrain and fatigue commonly reflect an incorrect eyeglass correction or more importantly an undiagnosed underlying medical problem.

Michael Starrels, MD



From Dominick M Maino on January 13, 2014 :: 1:28 pm

Those with Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) usually experience headaches, double vision, eye strained, blurred vision and other related symptoms. Many times this is because of diagnosed binocular vision problems such as convergence insufficiency, convergence excess, problems with focusing and inaccurate eye movement. The proper glasses and, when needed, optometric vision therapy can help.

For more information about CVS, binocular vision problems and vision therapy go to:

Research on the topic can be found here:“computer+vision+syndrome”

Dominick M. Maino, OD, MEd, FAAO, FCOVD-A; Professor Illinois College of Optometry; Associate Lyons Family Eye Care



From Drew Franklin on January 14, 2014 :: 2:26 pm

The old monitors were tough to stare at all day in the workplace. I remember laying in bed trying to fall asleep while still seeing the bright white square from the computer monitor. When WebTv was big in the 90’s most of us had a separate TV on our desk or table just to surf the internet. Not good to stare at an old school TV close up but we did. WebTV had a lot of cool stuff of their own that wouldn’t work on a computer, that’s why we also had it. Old IRC chatrooms etc… Drew Franklin, Austin Texas



From Jim D on January 19, 2014 :: 1:51 am

I have been using a program for several months named f.lux that is specifically designed to assist the eyestrain problem. It adjusts the brightness of the screen depending upon the time of day by an amount that you control. I highly recommend it (I have no connection with the company).



From Ruth Hoffman on November 13, 2014 :: 8:37 am

I’m working with computers for around 15years now and I’ve been on glasses these many years. I had to go for treatment to fix my eye power as it was getting worse with each year.
I’m now thinking of having a LASIK treatment, as now the power is a constant, from Evergreen Eye Center, Auburn. Done with the glasses.


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