A new study says that more than seven hours a day of daily screen time is harmful to our health, and the cost of this to the US economy adds up to $73B a year.
Eye-strain, muscle fatigue, neck pain, sleep interference, and even damage to our musculoskeletal system can result from spending too much time in front of a screen, says the report …
The report was written by the American Optometric Association (AOA) in association with Deloitte Access Economics. It says that harmful effects are found when we exceed seven hours a day of screen time.
The near-unavoidable nature of digital device use has given rise to device-related eye issues like myopia or nearsightedness, as well as digital eye strain (DES) or computer vision syndrome (CVS) with symptoms and consequences including dry eyes, blurred vision, headaches, or even neck and back pain.
If left unmanaged, DES can lead to decreased productivity, exacerbate other undiagnosed eye conditions and may affect an individual’s sleep quality and mental health.
This further results in absenteeism or presenteeism in the workplace, increased healthcare consumption, including individual and employer costs incurred by frequent health provider visits and associated time away from the workplace, as well as an overall decline in an individual’s quality of life.
It does in part read a little like a commercial for optometrists.
Simply reducing screen time may not be a feasible solution, especially among working-age Americans in office jobs who spend much of their day in front of a device. Almost 70% of individuals working office jobs are exposed to excessive screen time compared to 42% of individuals in other professions.
Yet, the timely identification, intervention and management of DES symptoms through topical solutions, improved ergonomics or appropriate eye wear as prescribed and recommended by a doctor of optometry, also referred to as an optometrist, can hedge against the aforementioned deleterious effects.
But AOA president Ronald Benner told CNET there are other steps we can take to reduce the health risks.
The 20-20-20 rule calls for you to look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes you’re in front of a screen [and] it’s a good start, according to Benner.
Other recommended measures are:
- Work on fewer devices, as switching screens is especially harmful
- Ensure your chair and desk are properly set up to safeguard your posture
- Position your monitor and lighting to avoid reflections
- If you feel neck or eye-strain, take a break
- Get annual eye tests
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