Digital Eye Strain Experienced by 70 Percent of Adults: Vision Council Report

Council outlines symptoms of eye strain, as well as how to reduce it and what causes it
January 9, 2014 Updated: July 18, 2015

Digital eye strain is becoming a bigger and bigger problem, with nearly seven out of 10 U.S. adults experiencing it, a new report from the Vision Council found.

This strain is physical discomfort from being in front of a digital screen for two or more hours–symptoms include dry, red, and irritated eyes; blurred vision; back, neck, or shoulder pain; and headaches.

What causes it? Looking at digital screens for extended periods of time, which our eyes are not equipped to do, according to Justin Bazan, optometrist and medical adviser to the Vision Council.

“Focusing on objects at an intermediate distance – like a computer or smartphone – ultimately fatigues the eyes’ focusing system and causes strain,” he said in the report announcement. “These experiences might be common, but they are not normal.”

Many digital devices not only weary the eyes, but also emit high-energy visible or blue light, which could detrimentally impact vision in the long run. Six out of 10 adults are unaware of this potential impact. 

digital eye strain

(Vision Council)

“Digital eye strain has become a large concern for the vision community,” said Ed Greene, CEO of The Vision Council, in the announcement. “Fortunately, the optical industry has made great strides in the past year to develop lens technologies that can best address the causes of digital eye strain. Like other glasses we rely on to read and see clearly, computer glasses are transforming the way we look at computer and hand-held device screens.”

The council recommends using these glasses to reduce eye strain. They can be made with or without prescriptions.

In addition, the council says people should:

  • Use the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and look at something 20 feet away.
  • Create an “eyegonomic” work station with proper lighting, seat adjustments, and monitor settings.
  • Enlarge your computer’s text and browser windows for easier viewing.
  • Remember to blink; staring at screens can dry eyes.


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