Screen Time’s Seismic Shift Means A Seismic Shift For Vision Care
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the harmful effect of screen time was a fast-growing area of treatment for Eye Care Professionals (ECPs). Now, the extraordinary levels of screen time that work-from-home, home schooling and isolation practices are driving represent not only a greater threat to patients, but a potentially permanent “new normal” of high exposure to treat and manage. For manufacturers of lenses, coatings, drops or supplements there is an opportunity – and critical need – to empower Independent Eye Care Professionals to take a larger role in their patients’ overall health.
In an August 2020 Jobson survey, 64% of ECPs reported more patients having issues due to increased screen time. Early onset myopia was already a troubling trend for children pre-COVID and the Jobson study indicates they are suffering more issues during the pandemic.
This is more than a spike in an already unhealthy trend. Even when the pandemic eases, many schools and workplaces will be slow to return to pre-COVID status. It could take 3-5 years for society to shift back, and for many the new lifestyles adopted during COVID will not change. Eyes will continue to work harder, be exposed to more harmful forces and patients will experience more painful symptoms.
The eye care of this new reality will need to be even more holistic, focusing on multiple levels:
Protection: such as blue light blocking and computer lenses
Treatment: with drops and supplements
Prevention: through lenses that support comfortable eye alignment at near distances, thereby eliminating or limiting painful symptoms such as eye strain, dry eye and shoulder and neck pain
Behavior change: including eye strain management techniques (adjusting screen settings, taking breaks, blinking often, etc.)
Manufacturers, and the industry as a whole, have a heightened obligation to partner with and empower ECPs, particularly independents, to expand the definitions of vision optimization and eye health. In this new paradigm, vision care plays a larger role in total well-being. The annual exam is no longer enough. The ECP must rightly move further into the core of circle of personal health providers.
The new normal is a serious threat to our most precious sense. After years of training, practice and passion, and supported by incredible product advancements, today’s ECP is ready to answer the call.