In a world gone wild over smartphones, tablets and other high-tech toys, you have to wonder: What’s all this digital dependence doing to our eyes?
The good news: Experts say it won’t cause permanent damage. The bad news? Staring at screens for prolonged periods of time can lead to an uncomfortable condition commonly known as eyestrain (technical term: asthenopia), whose symptoms include burning, dry or tired eyes, blurred vision, headache and increased sensitivity to light. While eyestrain has other causes—nuzzling your nose in a novel, for example, can bring on the same set of symptoms— it’s no surprise that the digital explosion has brought with it an uptick of visual challenges.
“We are seeing more complaints (about eyestrain) along with the growing popularity of smartphones, tablets and other devices,” says Vincent Cianci, O.D., a pediatric optometrist at Kaiser Permanente Roseville. Some 41 percent of Americans say they’ve experienced eyestrain, and about 10 million eye exams annually are prompted by vision problems from computer use, according to the American Optometric Association.
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