New survey reveals 71 per cent of Albertans suffer from digital eye strain

This Vision Health Month, optometrists are urging Albertans to take action to protect themselves from digital eye strain. Edmonton, Alberta, May 16, 2017 – A new survey commissioned by the Alberta Association of Optometrists revealed that more than 70 per cent of adults in Alberta are experiencing symptoms of digital eye strain. The survey also found that Alberta adults spend an overwhelming amount of time on digital devices – averaging more than 10 hours per day. For more than half of respondents, a digital device is one of the first things that they see after waking up (56 per cent), and one of the last things they see before going to bed (52 per cent). “Technology is an important part of our lives,” said Dr. Jim Asuchak, practicing optometrist and president of the Alberta Association of Optometrists. “But when people spend a significant amount of time using electronics, they are more likely to experience digital eye strain which can cause headaches, dry eyes, blurred vision, eye irritation and back, neck and shoulder pain.” While digital eye strain can be prevented and treated, the survey revealed that most Albertans are not taking simple steps to protect themselves. Only four per cent of respondents are taking advantage of the benefits of blue-light blocking lenses. Only 13 per cent of Albertans are practicing the 20-20-20 rule by looking at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes, and only 35 per cent of Albertans have their screen properly positioned. Of grave concern to optometrists is the fact that only 41 per cent of surveyed Albertans are visiting their optometrist on an annual basis. Many patients do not realize that their discomfort is being caused by digital eye strain until they have a comprehensive eye exam. “The good news is, when it comes to digital eye strain, optometrists can help provide relief to those who are suffering,” said Dr. Asuchak. “Most importantly, we are also able to determine whether patients have an underlying eye health condition that could be causing or contributing to their symptoms.” May is Vision Health Month, and the Alberta Association of Optometrists wants to remind Albertans to follow best practice when it comes to their eye health. Children should have their first eye exam between six and nine months, another between the ages of two and five and every year after that. Healthy adults should see an optometrist at least every two years, and seniors should have annual eye exams. In Alberta, annual eye exams are covered for children up to age 19 and seniors 65 and older. Visits to an optometrist for eye-related emergencies or treatments are covered for all Albertans. Survey details An online omnibus survey was conducted between April 20-21, 2017. Eight hundred and four Albertans aged 18 and over were surveyed. The estimated margin of error for the total sample is +/- 3.5%. About the Alberta Association of Optometrists The Alberta Association of Optometrists represents more than 700 optometrists across the province. The Association works to promote excellence in the practice of optometry, to enhance public recognition of optometry as the primary vision care provider in Alberta, and to advance the interests of the profession.

For more information or to find an optometrist, visit Media contact Jenna Shaw Edelman 403.817.0624

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