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New Year’s Resolution: Give your eyes a rest

Published:Friday | December 28, 2018 | 12:00 AM

It's the time of year when many persons resolve to eat healthier, get more exercise, or save more money. But a new resolution in this technology-crazed culture should be to give your eyes a break from too much screen time.

A recent poll by a US employee-benefits company, Unum, found that 40 per cent of US adults are spending more than 12 hours a day on various digital devices, such as cell phones, tablets and laptops. In the same study, 34 per cent of people said they feel they spend too much time on their devices.

An emerging and serious side effect of extended use of digital devices can be digital eye strain. Signs can include headaches; eye fatigue; burning, stinging, redness, or watering of eyes; blurred vision; or even pain in the neck and shoulders after extended time on devices.




While respondents to the Unum poll are experiencing eye strain, they don't anticipate their use of devices to decrease much in the coming years.

Top reported side effects of extended use of digital devices included sore neck, shoulders or back (31 per cent); sore, tired, burning or itchy eyes (25 per cent); headaches (21 per cent); watery or dry eyes (20 per cent); and blurred or double vision (19 per cent).

Women reported a higher incidence rate for each of these side effects than men.

Twenty-seven per cent of respondents expect their use of digital devices to increase or dramatically increase in the coming five years.

Younger workers expect to see the biggest increase in their device use, with 31 per cent of those ages 18-24 and 34 per cent of those ages 25-34 anticipating their use of digital devices to increase or dramatically increase in next five years.

With the new year on the horizon, now is a good time to resolve to make some simple adjustments to reduce eye strain:

- Every 20 minutes, shift your eyes to look at an object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This 20-20-20 rule will help relax the eyes by focusing on non-digital objects in the distance, according to Dr Chris Wroten, an optometrist and partner at Bond-Wroten Eye Clinic.

- Reduce the brightness or contrast of your screen to a comfortable level.

- Maintain good posture, and adjust your seating to assure you're viewing screens at the proper angles and distances. The top of your computer monitor should sit just below eye level at about an arm's length away from your face.

- Ensure that your prescription is up to date, especially if you wear corrective lenses. If it's been longer than a year since your last eye exam, consider making an appointment with your eye doctor.

- Make your vision health a priority. Even if you do not wear corrective lenses, try to get a comprehensive eye exam every one to two years, and talk to your doctor about any eye-strain symptoms.

For more information about digital eye strain, this consumer study and other industry information, visit Unum's newsroom.