Have you heard the term “Digital Natives”? No? Truthfully, we had not either, but the term makes total sense! Digital Natives refers to the generation of individuals that do not remember life without technology. The oldest members of this group of individuals are currently in their 20s. A life without internet, social media, smart phones, tablets, and more is completely foreign to them, therefore they are considered “natives” to technology. Screens have been intertwined into their day to day lives from birth. A survey of 1,884 young adults aged 13-21 found that two-thirds of the individuals felt uncomfortable going without internet access for any more than 4 hours!
Why is this important to Eye Care? Well… simply put, we are using our eyes differently than we have in the past. Our screen time has increased exponentially, especially since the start of COVID-19. School teachers, college kids, office workers, and even elementary aged children that have never had vision complaints before are experiencing more dry eyes, headaches, blurred vision, all things that are characteristic signs of digital eye strain (DES).
We are not suggesting that you avoid screens…. It’s impossible! Digital devices have been around a while, and they aren’t going anywhere. Computers, smartphones, gaming systems, VR headsets, e-readers, televisions, smart watches, even children’s toys are just some of the examples. Embracing technology is important, but we also understand that with increased use, we may have to make adjustments to ensure we are taking care of our eyes (and our children’s eyes)!
There are a multitude of options to help alleviate the symptoms of DES, including:
- Dry Eye Testing
- Specialized Eye Vitamins
- Updates to Contact Lens Technology or Modality
- Blue light Blocking Lenses
- Anti-Fatigue Lenses
- Lubricating Eye Drops
On average, people start to notice signs and symptoms of digital eye strain after two or more consecutive hours on a digital device. Take frequent breaks, encourage your children to step away from the screens, and remember the 20-20-20 rule! Every 20 minutes, take a break and look at something 20 feet away, for a minimum of 20 seconds. Multitasking has become the way of the world, with individuals frequently using multiple devices at one time, which further exacerbates DES symptoms! As hard as it is at times to step away, make sure to put down the devices every now and then!