A whopping 70 percent of TV watchers, iPhone and iPad users, and people who are glued to their computers don't blink enough, which causes digital eye strain, a new survey found.
When people constantly use screens like the ones on those devices, they tend to stare for long periods of time without blinking, Dr. Joshua L. Dunaief, associate professor of ophthalmology at the University of Pennsylvania's Scheie Eye Institute, told NBC News
"We don't blink as much when using screens because the blink response is suppressed," he said. "So we don’t spread tears across our eyes and they wind up drying out."
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The survey, which was recently carried out by a trade group called the Vision Council, found that 60 percent of adult respondents spent at least six hours a day staring at some sort of screen. Twenty-eight percent looked at screens for up to 10 hours a day. All but 30 percent of the 7,160 people included in the survey reported experiencing eye discomfort after.
Symptoms of digital eye strain can include dry eyes, blurry vision, fatigue, and neck and shoulder cramping.
"I see what I would consider a normal patient population, representative of the average experience most people are having," Brooklyn optometrist Justin Bazan, a paid consultant to the Vision Council, told NBC News. "And the problem is that they think [such strain] is normal. It’s so common and pervasive, they consider it a cost of doing business. They don’t know there are things you can do [to prevent it]."
So what can digital eye strain sufferers do? Turn down the brightness on their devices, hold cell phones and tablets slightly below eye level, and give their eyes a break every 20 minutes or so, experts say.
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