By Jacqui Mayhew

Overnight vision correction  - which treats short-sightedness (otherwise known as myopia) with small, custom-designed contact lenses worn only while sleeping - may provide a solution to the rapidly growing problem of ‘Digital Eye Strain' which is also referred to as ‘Computer Vision Syndrome'. Dry, irritated, tired eyes and head, neck and back pain are all symptoms of this uniquely modern malaise and a report from a leading US optical health organisation, The Vision Council, claimed that almost 95% of Americans are at risk. Over 60% of people in the US suffer from DES according to the report released on 7 January.

There are two causes of these problems and the risk they pose to eye health are very significant. Firstly, the blue light emitted by the computer screens is sufficiently serious that eye health issues can arise in just over two hours of continued screen time. Secondly, staring at screens on PCs, tablets and smartphones means that people reduce their blink rate by up to 80% meaning that eyes are deprived of moisture. The Vision Council survey found that around 60% of adults spend more than 5 hours staring at screens. Many of these adults wear glasses and daytime contact lenses so strain and irritation is exacerbated which is where overnight vision correction  can play an important role.

The Vision Council recommends that people remember to blink in order to prevent the eyes from drying out which can lead to severe dry eye problems for wearers of daytime contact lenses. More importantly, the old 20-20-20 rule should be observed - every 20 minutes, take 20 seconds away from the screen to view an object at least 20 metres distant. Even with such measures, daytime contact lens wearers can still suffer badly given that most of their screen viewing is done indoors in air-conditioned offices and homes which worsens the drying out effect and its consequent discomfort. Overnight vision correction  can offset this by not requiring short-sighted people to wear contact lenses during the daytime.

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