August 26, 2016

Southampton, United Kingdom, 22th August 2016 — Seven in ten adults are now experiencing digital eye fatigue1, yet the widespread condition is often dismissed as ‘normal’ by a population increasingly dedicated to their digital devices2,3,4. CooperVision, one of the world's largest manufacturers of soft contact lenses, is raising awareness about the growing problem in conjunction with eye care practitioners across the globe.

A combination of everyday factors, including longer periods of digital device use — plus extended exposure to bright light and screen glare — can contribute to digital eye fatigue2. As a result, the eyes’ ciliary muscles, which are responsible for close focusing, become overworked and contribute to symptoms that extend well beyond the eye. Left unaddressed, digital eye fatigue not only creates varying degrees of physical discomfort, but may also contribute to productivity loss, sluggishness and stress.

“Eye care practitioners know that patients are looking at smartphones, tablets, laptops, flat screens, order kiosks, in-car displays and more every day,” said Dr. Gary Orsborn, optometrist and Vice President of Global Professional & Clinical Affairs for CooperVision. “While we can dispense advice on how to counter the negative effects through some simple behaviours, such as giving your eyes a break every 20 minutes and making a conscious effort to blink more frequently, those tips often fall victim to busy lifestyles. Wettable contact lenses can help with discomfort that may be experienced from digital device use, but we need a better approach. CooperVision is exploring ways to help address the issue.”

The visual optics research group of Pete Kollbaum, O.D., Ph.D., at Indiana University found that more than 90 percent of adults use digital devices for more than two hours a day and nearly 60 percent of adults use digital devices for over five hours per day1. This makes them susceptible to digital device-related eye fatigue, due to the complex environment these devices create.

In fact, new research by this same group demonstrated that, of the individuals using devices, more than 75 percent report symptoms associated with digital eye fatigue at least once per week or greater, and 35 percent once per day or greater. The most frequently reported symptoms included tiredness, dryness, eye irritation, and eye strain. These same symptoms were also reported to be most severe when they did occur1.

Despite the high frequency of symptoms, 90 percent of patients do not talk with their eye care professional about their interaction with digital devices, according to a study by The Vision Council2. Since digital eye fatigue is not usually addressed in patients’ annual eye exams, the problem unfortunately becomes considered an inescapable part of modern life.

In the Indiana University research described above1, Dr. Kollbaum’s group highlighted the need for the medical and scientific communities, as well as consumers, to gain an improved understanding of how lens optical designs and advanced materials may help reduce the incidence and severity of these digital device-associated eye fatigue symptoms. Specifically, the work postulated that the contact lens industry may be ideally positioned to explore manipulations of both lens optics and material characteristics to create a better ocular and optical environment, and correspondingly an improved digital device use experience.

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1 “Symptoms associated with eye fatigue in soft contact lens wearers.” Authors: D. Meyer, S. Huenink, M. Rickert, P. Chamberlain, and P. Kollbaum.  Presented at the American Academy of Optometry Annual Meeting, October 2015, New Orleans, LA, USA.

2 The Vision Council. Eyes Overexposed: The Digital Device Dilemma - 2016 Digital Eye Strain Report.

3 “Doctor, My Eyes… Are Tired!” Review of Optometry, May 15, 2016.

4 The Vision Council. DigitEYEzed: The Daily Impact of Digital Screens on the Eye Health of Americans - 2014 Digital Eye Strain Report.