Do you ever get the feeling that you’re spending too much time on your phone? It’s no secret that people have been glued to their electronic devices during the pandemic and our reliance on our screens in general—including laptops, iPads and TVs—is off the charts.

According to new data from Eyesafe, a leader in screen time and blue light solutions, and LG Display, a cutting edge display company, people have been spending 13+ hours per day on screens since COVID-19 emerged—up 30 percent from last year. As a result, eye strain has become the #1 pain point for device users, with 59 percent of people experiencing symptoms of digital eye strain (DES).

Robert Weinstock, MD, the director of cataract and refractive surgery at the Eye Institute of West Florida in Tampa Bay, explained the effects of DES. “When you stare at a screen for a long period of time, it’s been proved that your normal blink mechanism slows down. So that creates a strain on the eyes as things get blurry and as the tears evaporate. Research studies have shown that blue light can also cause toxicity to the surface of the eye, and blue light shines a lot of light on the retina.”

DES is an equal opportunity ailment, affecting people of all ages. Dr. Nathan Bonilla-Warford, a pediatric optometrist at Bright Eyes Family Vision Care in New Tampa and Westchase, Florida said, “We now see kids as young as in pre-school who develop issues, such as blinking and squinting. And then we are seeing older kids who have blurry vision and adults with headaches and discomfort.”

So what’s the solution? Warford said, “We educate our patients on taking breaks from screen time, looking at distance when possible, deep blinking, and correct posture. Then we can prescribe lenses for specific functions that may include plus power, prism, and blue-light filter. If they have development accommodative spasm or other functional vision problems we will recommend vision therapy.”

Learn more about digital eye strain on Go to the Today’s Read section under the Scene & Heard category to read “Digital Eye Strain—Another Pandemic Pain Point.”