The 21st Century Eye: Protecting Your Vision Three Ways

Harrisburg, Feb. 18, 2015 - Everywhere we go, we're reading, shopping, banking, or being entertained online via digital devices small and large - at work, school, vacation, and on our way in-between. In fact, according to the American Optometric Association's (AOA) 2014 American Eye-Q® survey, 55 percent of adults are using computers, smartphones, tablets and other hand-held devices for at least five hours a day. A separate AOA survey showed that 83 percent of children, ages ranging from 10-17, use an electronic device for more than three hours a day. Digital use will only continue to increase, making it important for consumers to make smart eye care choices like seeing an eye doctor for yearly comprehensive eye exams.

Below are three tips from the Pennsylvania Optometric Association (POA) in observance of Save Your Vision Month, which occurs yearly in March.

Give Your Eyes a Break

The POA recommends following the 20-20-20 rule to discourage digital eye strain - take a 20-second break every 20 minutes to view something 20 feet away.

Regular, lengthy use of technology may lead to digital eye strain, which is a temporary condition, but one that includes symptoms like burning or tired eyes, headaches, fatigue, loss of focus, blurred or double vision, or head and neck pain.

Early research has also shown that overexposure to high-energy, short-wavelength blue and violet light emitted from electronic devices may also contribute to digital eye strain. This blue light also increases the likelihood of developing serious eye conditions such as age-related macular degeneration. Optometrists offer lens options including non-glare, filtering lenses, to help protect vision from harmful blue light.

Be a Savvy Shopper

There are many products available for purchase online, but prescription eyeglasses should not be one of them. Eyeglasses are meant to be individually custom-made; health and safety should trump convenience when it comes to eyewear. Internet orders often result in incorrect prescriptions, not to mention all the other problems that occur with any online transaction that can cost consumers more money and a great deal of hassle. According to a 2011 study done by the AOA, the Optical Laboratories Association and The Vision Council, nearly half of all glasses ordered online had either prescription errors or failed to meet minimum safety standards.

Eyeglasses are a medical device and should be treated as such. They are an investment in your health and future, and must be custom-fitted not only for comfort, but also to be sure precise prescription needs are met so that the wearers are seeing his or her best.

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There is no substitute for a comprehensive, yearly eye exam by an eye doctor. Despite catchy claims, there is no "app for that." While a variety of new mobile applications and websites claim to evaluate vision or the fit of eyeglasses, often inaccurate or misleading information is given, and misinformed consumers end up delaying essential, sight-saving exams. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical in preventing a total loss of vision and often improve quality of life.

One of the most important, preventive ways to preserve vision and accurately assess eye health is to have yearly, comprehensive eye examinations. Diagnosing an eye disorder or disease, or determining if corrective lenses are needed, is also determined by these helpful eye examinations.

To find a nearby doctor of optometry, or for additional information on eye health in the 21st century, please visit

About the Pennsylvania Optometric Association (POA):
The Pennsylvania Optometric Association is the professional organization for over 1,250 doctors of optometry in Pennsylvania. An affiliate of the American Optometric Association, POA promotes the highest quality eye and vision care by optometrists, represents optometry to state government, provides its members with post-graduate education and membership benefits, and conducts activities in the interest of the visual welfare of the public. For more information, visit

About the American Eye-Q® survey:
The ninth annual American Eye-Q® survey was created and commissioned in conjunction with Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates (PSB). From March 20-25, 2014, PSB conducted 1,000 online interviews among Americans 18 years and older who embodied a nationally representative sample of the U.S. general population. (Margin of error is plus or minus 3.10 percentage points at a 95% confidence level)

About the Children's Omnibus survey:
The children's Omnibus survey was created and commissioned in conjunction with Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates (PSB). From March 24-31, 2014, PSB conducted 200 online interviews from March 24-31, 2014 with children ages 10 to 17. (Margin of error is plus or minus 6.93 percentage points at a 95% confidence level)

About the American Optometric Association (AOA):
The American Optometric Association, a federation of state, student and armed forces optometric associations, was founded in 1898. Today, the AOA is proud to represent the profession of optometry, America's family eye doctors, who take a leading role in an individual's overall eye and vision care, health and well-being. Doctors of optometry (ODs) are the independent primary health care professionals for the eye and have extensive, ongoing training to examine, diagnose, treat and manage disorders, diseases and injuries that affect the eye and visual system, providing two-thirds of primary eye care in the U.S. For information on a variety of eye health and vision topics, and to find an optometrist near you, visit