SAN RAMON, Calif., October 8, 2020—New consumer research from CooperVision reveals that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to increased digital device use among Americans, and many are experiencing its effects on their eyes. The survey—conducted among nearly 2,500 adults in the United States—also shows significant opportunity for eye care professionals (ECPs) to discuss digital eye strain with their patients.
The data supports CooperVision’s campaign aimed at educating consumers about the prevalence of digital device use and digital eye strain, which leverages free trial offers to help drive patients into nearby eye care practices. The campaign kicked off with social media and display ads in August, and includes a partnership with digital lifestyle and technology influencer Jessica Naziri.
Extended screen time, already a trend heading into 2020, has become a way of life. 70% of respondents ages 18-54 reported they spend more than half of their day looking at screens, while one in three people said more than 75% of their day is spent on digital devices.
In examining their screen time on specific devices since the start of the pandemic, 44% of all respondents reported increased use of their smartphones and 36% are spending more time on their computers. 38% also reported watching more television over the last six months.
Naturally, this digital device use has had an impact on the eyes. Of those surveyed, 77% experience digital eye strain at some point during the day. The evening (41%) and late-night hours (32%) are the most common times of day to experience feelings of eye discomfort, tiredness and dryness from looking at screens.
“Through the years, advances in technology have led to ever-increasing rates of digital device use in society, and as eye care professionals, we have seen the impact on eye health in our patients. The virtual work, education, and socialization forced on us by the pandemic seems to have accelerated these issues,” said Michele Andrews, OD, Senior Director of Professional and Academic Affairs, North America, CooperVision.
“Even before Biofinity Energys® was launched, we partnered with ECPs to educate patients about the symptoms of digital eye strain, but there is more to be done. The results of this survey validate that digital eye strain is widely experienced, and spotlight a real opportunity for eye care professionals and their practices to help.”
Effects of Virtual Learning
Following the shutdown of schools and colleges across the country in the spring, many students have now returned to virtual or hybrid education. Among respondents with school-aged children (5-18), 87% reported that their kids have some amount of school-related screen time. 65% said their children spend at least three hours per day on digital devices for school, while 23% have at least six hours of school-related screen time each day.
As a result of these school-related screen time habits, 39% of parents reported that their children have experienced at least one symptom of digital eye strain. 23% said their children had complained of tired eyes, while 20% cited headaches. In addition, 14% have had neck and/or shoulder pain following school-related digital device use.
Understanding Digital Eye Strain—and How ECPs Can Help
The survey revealed some lack of understanding about the symptoms of digital eye strain. While most respondents (63%) associated tired eyes with the condition, fewer were familiar with other symptoms, including headaches (51%), blurred vision (50%), dry eyes (44%), and neck and/or shoulder pain (37%).
Discussions between consumers and ECPs about digital device use have grown since CooperVision began tracking these interactions, yet remained infrequent. Fewer than one of five respondents said that their eye doctor had ever talked to them about digital device use and its effect on the eyes—but three of five wished their ECP would share how to combat the symptoms of digital eye strain. Parents of school-aged children expressed even greater interest, with two out of three reporting they would like to have this discussion with their ECP.
“If ECPs don’t raise the discussion of digital device use with patients, it will likely go undiscussed—a missed opportunity to help improve vision and increase comfort. Proactively having that conversation also establishes practitioners as being cognizant of lifestyle trends and may increase patient perceptions, especially when given counsel on how to mitigate the symptoms of digital eye strain through inventive methods like Biofinity Energys® contact lenses,” said Dr. Andrews.
CooperVision Biofinity Energys® contact lenses are designed for an evolving world. They are the first and only1 contact lenses that combine natural wettability with an innovative lens design to help with eye tiredness and dryness, two key symptoms commonly associated with digital eye strain. CooperVision’s Aquaform® Technology retains moisture and soothes dry eyes during periods of prolonged focus on digital devices, when blinking can be reduced. And Digital Zone Optics® lens design eases ciliary muscle stress and accommodative burden,2 and enables wearers to change focus from on-screen to off-screen and back with less effort.
For more information, visit www.coopervision.com/practitioner/only-biofinity-energys.
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All figures are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,444 adults in the United States. Fieldwork was undertaken August 26-28, 2020. The survey was conducted online.
1 US monthly single vision lens.
2 Based on a statistically significant difference of the mean change in Accommodative Microfluctuations and when compared toBiofinity® sphere after reading on an iPhone 5 for 20 minutes held at a distance of 25 cm.
CooperVision, a division of CooperCompanies (NYSE:COO), is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of soft contact lenses. The Company produces a full array of daily disposable, two-week and monthly contact lenses, all featuring advanced materials and optics. CooperVision has a strong heritage of solving the toughest vision challenges such as astigmatism, presbyopia and childhood myopia; and offers the most complete collection of spherical, toric and multifocal products available. Through a combination of innovative products and focused practitioner support, the company brings a refreshing perspective to the marketplace, creating real advantages for customers and wearers. For more information, visit www.coopervision.com.
CooperCompanies ("Cooper") is a global medical device company publicly traded on the NYSE (NYSE:COO). Cooper operates through two business units, CooperVision and CooperSurgical. CooperVision brings a refreshing perspective on vision care with a commitment to developing a wide range of high-quality products for contact lens wearers and providing focused practitioner support. CooperSurgical is committed to advancing the health of women, babies and families with its diversified portfolio of products and services focusing on medical devices and fertility & genomics. Headquartered in San Ramon, Calif., Cooper has a workforce of more than 12,000 with products sold in over 100 countries. For more information, please visit www.coopercos.com.
Heather Kowalczyk, APR
McDougall Communications for CooperVision, Inc.
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