Digital communication has become an integral part of daily life. Smartphones and tablets are pocket-sized personal assistants with appointment reminders, news and a means of keeping in touch with family and friends. Living multi-screen lives may aid productivity, but eye health professionals are increasingly worried about the consequences of “digital vision”.
Over the past two years, time spent with digital devices has increased 49 per cent, according to data from online measurement firm comScore. Handheld devices are leading the way: time using smartphones jumped 90 per cent and tablets surged 64 per cent.
However, some studies suggest all that time squinting at the phone may cause users to squint at everything else. Research housed through the US-based Vision Impact Institute has shown that myopia (nearsightedness) is rapidly rising in East Asia, Europe and the United States, especially among younger people. Research is pointing to factors other than genetics, such as behaviour and environment, as the cause of this epidemic of shortsightedness. The common denominator among these populations seems to be time spent using digital devices.
While not seeing distances clearly can be frustrating, even dangerous when driving, it can be corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses and refractive surgery. However, high myopia has been associated with a greater risk for ocular disorders, including retinal detachment, glaucoma and cataracts.
“We’re good about getting the annual physical and dental check-up, but often we aren’t as diligent about seeing the eye doctor once a year,” said Maureen Cavanagh, president of the Vision Impact Institute. “As we turn more and more of our daily routines over to digital devices, we need to place a greater emphasis on scheduling regular eye exams to correct problems such as myopia and monitor for associated risks.”
In addition, Cavanagh points to several small steps all digital users can take to make their devices healthier for their eyes:
Regardless of your age or how many digital devices you have, taking care of your eyes helps prevent vision problems and protects your overall eye health. Learn more at visionimpactinstitute.org
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