What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? Do you check your smartphone? If so, then you’re not alone. According to The Vision Council’s annual survey of digital device use in 2015, 69 percent of American adults use a smartphone on a daily basis and 43 percent use a tablet or an e-reader. There’s no denying that we live in a digital world. But do we realize how much of a negative impact our digital devices are having on our eyes, especially those of our children?
One in four children uses digital devices more than three hours a day. They are now even using technology for coursework in school. Exposure to harmful blue light from screens can pose a risk to children’s developing eyes and too much screen time can lead to accelerated myopia. Some symptoms of digital eyestrain are red, irritated or dry eyes, headaches, blurred vision from screen glare, tiredness and neck pain.
ECPs can identify digital eyestrain by doing a comprehensive eye exam and asking young patients about their lifestyles and use of digital devices. They can then prescribe lens materials that block blue light, anti-reflective coatings or amber/yellow filters in a variety of options like single vision lenses, computer lenses and bifocals. — CAROL GILHAWLEY
This article originally appeared in the May 2016 edition of INVISION.
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DIGITAL EYESTRAIN PRODUCTS
DR. ERIC WHITE
Complete Family Vision Care, San Diego, CA
➤ We live in a tech world now. Everybody is constantly on their smartphone, tablet or computer. Computer vision syndrome is real and needs to be addressed. I think doctors should be proactive in prescribing computer glasses from the exam chair. You need to listen to your patients and ask the right questions like: How many hours are you on an electronic device a day? Even if they have perfect eyes now, computer vision syndrome will creep up and get them. We need to prescribe computer glasses before this happens to help keep their eyes perfect.
DR. TANYA GILL
Oakland Vision Center, Oakland, CA
➤ A lot of children get their first iPad at 3 or 4 years of age. Compared to 20 years ago, they are on their digital devices much earlier and are becoming more near-sighted sooner. To deal with this increase in myopia we prescribe progressives for digital eyestrain. It’s all about the add power and how it can slow down the progression of myopia. Digital eyestrain is not going away.
DR. GINA WESLEY
Complete Eyecare of Medina, Medina, MN
➤ About 30 percent of my patients are children. I’m seeing an increase in school-age children reporting digital eyestrain because they spend so much time on their digital devices. When selling lenses [to protect from digital eyestrain] the first person I need to convince is the parent. Then I talk to the kids and I tell them why these lenses are important. I talk about protection. I mention how sunglasses protect us from UV light but now we need a new level of protection from high energy blue light. Patients like this concept and embrace it.