Protect your vision
Follow a 20-20-20 rule to ward off digital eye strain by taking a 20-second break every 20 minutes and view something 20 feet away. (U.S. Army photo illustration)
FORT LEE, Va. — Digital devices such as computers, smart phones, tablets and other handhelds are increasingly found in every aspect of our lives, whether reading, shopping, banking or being entertained online.
According to the American Optometric Association's 2014 American Eye-Q survey, 55 percent of adults use electronic devices for five or more hours a day. A separate AOA survey showed that 83 percent of children between the ages of 10 and 17 use an electronic device for more than three hours a day.
Digital use will continue to increase, making it more important than ever for consumers to make smart eye care choices and to see an eye doctor for yearly comprehensive eye exams.
In observance of AOA's Save Your Vision Month in March, here are several tips:
Give Your Eyes a Break
Follow a 20-20-20 rule to ward off digital eye strain by taking a 20-second break every 20 minutes and view something 20 feet away.
"Although ongoing technology use doesn't permanently damage vision, regular, lengthy use of technology may lead to a temporary condition called digital eye strain," said Dr. John Press, an optometrist at Fort Lee. "Symptoms can include burning or tired eyes, headaches, fatigue, loss of focus, blurred vision, double vision or head and neck pain."
Early research also has shown that overexposure to high-energy, short-wavelength blue and violet light emitted from electronic devices may contribute to digital eye strain. Blue light also could increase the likelihood of developing serious eye conditions such as age-related macular degeneration. Optometrists offer options including non-glare or filtering lenses to help protect vision from harmful blue light.
Be a Savvy Shopper
Shopping online can be great for some products that aren't individually custom-made like prescription eyeglasses are; health and safety trump convenience when it comes to eyewear. Internet orders often result in incorrect prescriptions or other problems with products that get sent through the mail, costing consumers more time and money in the long run. According to a 2011 study conducted by the AOA, the Optical Laboratories Association and The Vision Council, nearly half of all glasses ordered online had either prescription errors or failed to meet minimum safety standards.
"Eyeglasses are an investment in your health and must be custom-fitted not only to be comfortable, but also to be sure precise prescription needs are met so that you're actually seeing your best," said Press.
When it comes to really seeing what's going on with your eyes, there is no substitute for a comprehensive, yearly eye exam by an eye doctor. Despite catchy claims, there is truly no 'app' for that. While a variety of new mobile applications claim to evaluate vision or the fit of eyeglasses, often these apps give inaccurate or misleading information, and misinformed consumers end up delaying essential, sight-saving exams. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical and can often prevent a total loss of vision and improve quality of life.
"Comprehensive, yearly eye exams are one of the most important, preventive ways to preserve vision, and the only way to accurately assess eye health, diagnose an eye disorder or disease, and determine if you need corrective lenses," said Press.
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