How excess gadget use is straining your eyes

Angus Kidman 24 October 2016

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Optometrists are seeing rising levels of device-related damage.

I woke up this morning with dry, sore eyes. Obviously, red wine may be a factor here, but if I want to minimise my alcoholic tendencies, I could also point to my gadget addiction.

A recent survey of Australian optometrists found that 99% are concerned about levels of eye damage in their patients due to "heavy digital device use". Presumably, the other 1% had imbibed a lot of red wine before filling out the questionnaire.

Transparency moment: the survey was commissioned by Eyezen, which makes glare-reduction lenses for people who stare at laptops all day, and I don't imagine it would have been talking up the results if optometrists had concluded that everyone's eyes are just dandy. But mine certainly aren't. I would have been challenged to read the words "cabernet shiraz merlot" first thing this morning.

The biggest levels of concern are for patients aged between 20 and 40, which technically counts me out. Despite that, I'm clearly a gadget addict; I'm one of those Australians who'll admit to using their mobile phone while on the toilet. (So far, I haven't taken to drinking red wine on the dunny, but let's give it a few years before we rule that out for good.)

Dry eyes are one of the most common gadget strain symptoms, noticed by 78% of optometrists surveyed. The top slot went to eye strain (87%), and headaches came in third place (78%). I don't often get headaches, and when I do I usually blame the sulphur commonly found in most reds.

But here's the rub: I don't need glasses for screen use. I do need them for distance vision, but in reality that means I only ever use them at conferences, concerts and movie theatres. And in all those venues, I can usually get hold of a cheeky glass of plonk if I want one. So the challenge of drinking less wine and using fewer gadgets remains. But I might need a new career for that to happen.

Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears Monday through Friday on finder.com.au.

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