Optometrists Launch Screen-time Eye Safety Campaign

Eye Health Is No Game

The American Optometric Assoc. (AOA) recently launched a first-of-its kind Screen Time Alliance, in partnership with the gaming industry, to educate Americans about the effects of prolonged time on digital devices and its impact on eye health.

With the increase of online and app-based vision services, AOA’s Eye Deserve More, a national public-awareness campaign, takes a stand that every American deserves in-person comprehensive eye care from a doctor of optometry as part of their eye health and overall well-being. The Screen Time Alliance focuses on the rise of screen time — particularly among gamers — and shows how all gamers, streamers, and scrollers can keep their eyes healthy.

More than 227 million Americans play video games, and with gaming and screen time on the rise, so is the risk for long-term implications for people’s eye health. AOA’s 2022 Gamer Survey results revealed that the average gamer spends more than eight hours a day on screens and has experienced various eye-related symptoms from gaming, including eye strain, headaches, dry eyes and blurred vision. Many gamers are aware of the eye-health implications for long-term screen time usage, but less than half (46%) visit a healthcare professional for a comprehensive eye exam every year.

The Screen Time Alliance is a collaboration between a professional eye-health association and gaming-industry companies to educate gamers, and all screen-time users, about the importance of healthy screen time. Current members include Nerd Street Gamers, a national network of e-sports facilities, events, and content, and Playcrafting, a game-development company.

The Alliance’s goal is to encourage people to get their eyes checked offline by a doctor of optometry so they can do more of what they love online. Additionally, the AOA has developed “Eye Health Guidance for Screen Time” to provide actionable steps for gamers to adapt and optimize gaming experiences to improve their eye and overall health.

“The establishment of the Screen Time Alliance is an important collaboration for us, as the majority of Americans spend a significant amount of time on screens and playing video games,” AOA President Dr. James DeVleming said. “While there are many things we can do on our screens, getting a comprehensive eye exam is not one of them. Through in-person exams, doctors of optometry play a major role in an individual’s overall well-being by being able to spot vision and eye-health issues, as well as early signs of systemic diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, autoimmune diseases, and cancers.”

As part of this year’s campaign, the AOA is partnering with Jordan Fisher, an actor, singer, songwriter, producer, gamer, and parent, to educate fellow gamers and parents about the importance of taking care of their eye health and encouraging them to practice healthier screen-time habits.

“After injuring my cornea years ago, I did not realize how it would affect the rest of my body. With the amount of time I spend on screens— about seven hours a day reading, producing, gaming, or taking videoconference calls — it’s key to practice healthy screen-time habits as it can really take a toll on your eyes,” Fisher said. “That’s why getting an eye exam in person is so important. Optometrists are able to look beyond your eyes into your whole body. I make eye health a priority for me and my family, so we won’t miss any important life moments.”

Doctors of optometry like Dr. Jason Compton, AOA member and a gamer himself, say some patients may not make the connection between screens and symptoms such as dry eyes and headaches.

“It’s my job as an optometrist to get to know my patients’ habits and behaviors to create tailored recommendations to keep their eyes and overall body healthy, especially since comprehensive eye health is not a one-size-fits-all approach,” Compton said. “Whether you’re a pro gamer, Twitch streamer, casual scroller, or someone who spends all day working at the computer, it’s critical to see a doctor of optometry in person every year and adapt healthy gaming and screen time habits, like taking regular screen breaks and stopping any gaming activity at least one hour before bedtime.”

Article by Healthcare News.


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