Zeiss has launched findings of a national study revealing the extent and risks of device dependence, and the impact of these changes on our physiology.1
The study found 37% of Australians spend three to four hours a day on digital devices, with 26% connected for five to 10 hours. Concerningly, one in ten (9%) spend over ten hours per day looking at a screen – to put this into context, ten hours is 41% of the day – almost all our waking hours.
the Zeiss SmartLife portfolio is a big deal. It can be compared to the invention of UV protective lenses and is something we believe should become a global standard as a single solution for all of today’s active, connected adults
The research further showed that close to one quarter of respondents (23%) have experienced a ‘near miss’ due to device distraction. One in ten have come close to serious accidents walking on the street, and another 10% while driving. Young adults are especially at risk of digital distraction, with one in five (20%) having experienced a near miss when driving, and the same proportion almost running into trouble walking in the street. This is understandable considering almost half of the respondents admit to spending “a significant portion of their day” looking downward at a screen.
Daily Tasks Becoming ‘Multi Tasks’
Devices are also altering social interactions; 49% report to occasionally or always sharing their attention with a device during face to face conversations. Close to half can’t go for a walk or exercise without looking at a device (43% and 48% respectively).
It is no wonder that 46% ‘feel lost’ without their phone.
“The study paints a very clear picture of how our reliance on devices is impacting our lives in every way – our social lives and how we communicate with peers, how we approach daily tasks like exercising and driving, the increased risk associated with these behaviours, and also how we feel physically,” commented Hilke Fitzsimons, General Manager Zeiss Vision Care Australia. “This is especially true for anyone under 40 who are literally glued to their devices.”
Devices Causing Physical Strain
The study showed a majority of Australians (63%) suffer from tired eyes at the end of every day. Close to half (46%) are worried about the long-term impact of screen time on their vision, while the same number experience neck strain every day due to device usage.
In addition, 42% of parents are worried about the long-term impact that screen time will have on their child’s development.
A Solution for ‘Changing Visual Behaviour’
The study precedes the Australian release of Zeiss SmartLife lenses, designed to address how ubiquitous connectivity and our modern lifestyle are impacting people’s vision, with frequent gaze changes between various directions and distances.
Whether 20 or 60 years old, smartphones, fitness trackers and other connected information devices compete for people’s attention. Those who walk while using handheld devices can do so by relying on a combination of central and peripheral vision to navigate. They also bend the upper spine and tip the head forward to manage the close viewing distance of small screens. Spectacle wearers are often looking through the bottom of the lenses.
Zeiss says its Smart Dynamic Optics support a dynamic visual behaviour, from very close to very far, and include changed lens periphery to allow smoother, clearer vision needed for frequent changes of head and eye posture driven by the way in which people interact with their handheld devices. Zeiss SmartLife Lenses give “single vision, digital and progressive lens wearers of all ages, all day visual comfort”.
Ms Fitzsimons said the survey of Australians’ device-related behaviour, aligned with other international studies and clinical trials, informed the development Zeiss SmartLife.
“We don’t ‘see’ how we used to. Life used to be a series of events happening one after the other: do your job, read a book, meet with friends. Although the telephone might ring when you were doing any of these things, the phone did not require your complete visual attention as it does today,” said Ms Fitzsimons.
“Given the impact that device connectivity is having on our physiology, the Zeiss SmartLife portfolio is a big deal. It can be compared to the invention of UV protective lenses and is something we believe should become a global standard as a single solution for all of today’s active, connected adults.”
Ms Fitzsimons also reiterated the importance of frequently ‘switching off’.
“It’s surprising how much distraction we can process without getting into more trouble than we already do. In terms of visual health, however, it’s very important that people spend time each day away from screens, and outdoors exposed to natural light, in addition to ensuring all eyewear is tailored to the ‘new norm’ of visual behaviour.”
Zeiss SmartLife will be available across Australia in April 2020. For more information, visit www.zeiss.com/smartlife.