The American Optometric Association (AOA) and optometrists across the nation are aiming to increase public awareness about the importance of regular comprehensive eye examinations to protect your sight. This year’s campaign focuses on exposure to blue light rays from our electronic devices, digital eye strain or computer vision syndrome, and the risks with relying on online resources for shopping for eye and vision care products.

Overexposure to blue light emitted from electronic devices, such as smartphones, tablets, computers, LED monitors, and even flat screen TV’s, could be contributing to different eye conditions. Digital eye strain, or computer vision syndrome, includes symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, loss of focus, blurred vision, double vision or head and neck pain. These symptoms can be temporary or can continue to occur even after computer or electronic device work has stopped. Uncorrected vision problems like astigmatism or nearsightedness can further worsen symptoms.

According to AOA surveys from 2014, 55% of adults and 83% of children between the ages of 10-17 spend 3 hours a day or more on electronic devices. Since this number will likely increase in the future, digital eye strain, or computer vision syndrome, will continue to be a top concern for eye doctors in the years to come. In addition, early research shows that overexposure to blue light may be linked to macular degeneration, which further reinforces the need for consistent comprehensive eye care.

If you are experiencing the symptoms described above and use electronic devices throughout most of your day, you may be suffering from digital eye strain. To prevent or reduce these symptoms, the AOA recommends following the 20-20-20 rule: take a 20 second break, every 20 minutes, and view something 20 feet away. There are additional tools that can help combat digital eye strain so make sure to call your eye care provider to schedule an appointment as well.

The AOA is warning consumers about the new trend of purchasing eyeglasses online and using mobile apps and online tests to gather vision information such as eyeglass prescriptions. A study done in 2011 with the Optical Laboratories Association found that nearly half of all glasses ordered online failed to meet minimum safety standards or had incorrect prescriptions. This can actually cost consumers more money in the long run. In addition, the use of mobile eye test apps often results in inaccurate or misleading information and cannot replace an eye health evaluation. Comprehensive, yearly eye exams from an eye care provider are the only way to accurately assess vision and eye health, diagnose eye disorders like diabetes, macular degeneration, or glaucoma, and determine proper treatment.

In observance of Save Your Vision Month, we at the office of Dr. David Schmolly and Dr. Rachel Carver along with the AOA, are encouraging you to make smart eye choices! If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, call us today.

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