A startling new report found that 70% of people working in office jobs spend more than seven hours a day watching screens, compared to 42% of individuals in other professions. The impact of excess screen time, defined as spending more than seven hours staring at screens daily, costs the U.S. $151 billion a year. The report revealed that more than 104 million working age Americans spend more than seven hours of their day in front of screens, and their health and well-being is suffering.
According to CNBC, these costs could be reduced by regular visits to an eye doctor, using eye drops and wearing appropriate glasses. The report compiled by the Deloitte Economics Institute and the American Optometric Association (AOA) calculated the costs incurred by health systems, the symptoms’ effect on productivity at work, and their perceived effect on a person’s well-being to arrive at their astronomical figure of $151 billion.
“It’s impossible to ignore the fact that digital devices have had on our daily lives, particularly in the workplace,” said Deloitte Economics Institute Partner Simone Cheung who led the report. “Through our study with AOA, we were able to qualify the cost of unmanaged screen time and gain insight into the impact on not only Americans’ health, but employers and the overall health system.”
The symptoms of digital eye strain, or DES, include neck and back pain, blurred vision, headaches, and dry eyes. Researchers said just two hours of screen time can induce these symptoms and if left untreated, can lead to decreased productivity, exacerbate other undiagnosed eye conditions, and may affect an individual’s sleep quality and overall health.
However, the adverse effects of DES can by mitigated with regular eye exams, using eye drops and wearing glasses specially designed for screen and computer use. The study found that seeing an optometrist and managing symptoms could save as much as $1,920 a year per person.
“These findings further underscore the importance of better screen time habits and receiving annual, in-person comprehensive eye exams with an AOA doctor of optometry to maintain your eye and overall health,” said Ronald Brenner, doctor of optometry, and president of the AOA, in a press release.
The AOA offers a handy information guide called Eye Health Guidance for Screen time, available, here.
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