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Survey: Device-dependence is altering visual behaviour

One in 10 Australians spend more than 10 hours per day looking at a screen, according to findings of a new Zeiss-commissioned study revealing the extent and risks of device dependence.

The survey of Australian consumers was released prior to the launch of Zeiss’ new SmartLife lenses, which have been designed to address today’s dependence on digital devices and its impact on vision, particularly in relation to frequent gaze changes between various directions and distances.

Zeiss’s Changing Vision Survey 2020 found one quarter of Australians have experienced a ‘near miss’ due to device distraction while walking or driving. Young adults are especially at risk of digital distraction with one in five having experienced a near miss when behind the wheel.

Nearly half of those surveyed reported ‘feeling lost’ without their phone, 63% experienced tired eyes at the end of the day and 46% were worried about the long-term impact of screen time on their vision.

Despite such concerns, 48% said they can’t exercise without looking at a device.

The survey also revealed that devices are altering social interactions, with 49% of respondents reporting that they occasionally or always share their attention with a device during face-to-face conversations.

Key findings from the survey reveal the extent of device-dependance among Australians.

Ms Hilke Fitzsimons, general manager Zeiss Vision Care Australia, said the study paints a clear picture of how device-dependence is impacting lives.

“It 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. This is especially true for anyone under 40 who are literally glued to their devices,” she said.

Fitzsimons said the survey of Australians’ device-related behaviour aligned with other international studies and clinical trials that informed the development of Zeiss SmartLife lenses.

“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,” Fitzsimons said.

Fitzsimons said the Zeiss SmartLife lens can be compared to the invention of UV protective lenses and is something the company believes should become a global standard as a solution for today’s device-dependant adults.

It adopts Zeiss Smart Dynamic Optics, which support a dynamic visual behaviour, from very close to very far, and include changed lens periphery to allow smoother, clearer vision for frequent changes of head and eye posture.

“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,” she said.

SmartLife lenses will be available across Australia in April 2020 in single vision, digital and progressive lens forms.