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Digital Eye Strain Study Reports 95 Percent of Americans at Risk Due to Device Brightness

Digital Eye Strain Study Reports 95 Percent of Americans at Risk Due to Device Brightness

by Clay Michael GillespieJanuary 7, 2015

We’ve all had those long days, slaving over a bright computer to get work done. Once we clock out, we head home and watch TV or stare at our phones into the night. After all the lights are out, we lay in bed and do some last-minute social networking or gaming before bed. Eventually, we fall asleep, wake up and start again by picking up our phones and checking our missed Snapchats.

What we don’t realize though, is that we’re damaging our eyes immensely. According to a new report by The Vision Council, nearly 95 percent of Americans are at risk of suffering from digital eye strain.

“On average, we look at our mobile phones more than 100 times a day, yet people aren’t making the connection how this constant use of technology is impacting vision health,” said Dora Adamopoulos, OD, medical adviser to The Vision Council. “Digital eye strain is likely to continue to grow as a health concern. However, there are tools and products that can alleviate or even prevent the onset of symptoms as well as protect the eyes.”

Apparently after two or more hours of staring at a screen, people may begin to feel temporary physical discomfort due to the strain. The eyes get red, irritated and dry, as well as experiencing blurred vision and fatigue coupled with back and neck pain.

Apps and Tools to Fight Digital Eye Strain

The culprit is the blue light, also known as high-energy visible (HEV) light, emitted from backlit displays on our devices.

“Many people assume digital eye strain is an unavoidable part of living in a digital world, but there are simple ways to ease the strain on eyes,” said Mike Daley, CEO of The Vision Council. “The vision community as a whole has identified technology use as a challenge for eye comfort and health. As a result, over the past several years, we’ve seen a tremendous amount of innovation to help reduce the strain to eyes that many experience from digital devices.”

But don’t fret, there are apps on the market built specifically for combating digital eye strain. A popular tool for desktop and laptop computers is F.lux, which overlays a warmer red color on the desktop that’s easier on the eyes than the harsh blue.

“Ever notice how people texting at night have that eerie blue glow? Or wake up ready to write down the Next Great Idea, and get blinded by your computer screen?” F.lux says on their website. “During the day, computer screens look good—they’re designed to look like the sun. But, at 9PM, 10PM, or 3AM, you probably shouldn’t be looking at the sun.”

Mac, Windows and Linux users can all utilize F.lux, as well as iPhone and iPad users. However, Android users can use apps like Twilight or EasyEyez to make sure they aren’t experiencing damage from digital eye strain.

The Vision Center also has other alternatives that don’t require downloading software or applications.

“Remember the 20/20/20 rule: every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break from the screen and look at something 20 feet away.”

“Build an optimal workspace to mitigate outside stressors—this includes ideal lighting, comfortable computer screen height and good posture.”

“Increase the text size on your devices to better define the content on your screen.”

“Visit an eye care provider to learn more about computer eyewear and lens options that can help reduce symptoms of digital eye strain and improve vision.”

Photograph courtesy of Wikipedia; other images from Shutterstock.

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  • I’ve been using flux for a while. But you have to deactivate it if you’re hosting a LAN game, because it distorts your ability to see things in games. For example, you can’t see uranium well on a map in Civ5. I heard wearing yellow tinted glasses helps.

    • Neil Sardesai

      +1 for f.lux. Can’t live without it.