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BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -
If you're like most Americans, then chances are you spend a lot of time in front of a screen.
"All of the computers, the laptops, the cell phones. It's just a part of everything that we do," explain Dr. Rob Pate, an optometrist in Hoover.
A recent nationwide survey shows a growing number of people are spending at least 10 hours a day in front of a digital screen. But, all that browsing, working, and watching could be why so many are ending up at doctor's offices.
"They are going to feel like they burn. They're going to be red. They are going to sting, "added Dr. Pate.
He say doctors call it digital eye strain.
"It's something that we battle with people all day everyday," Pate said.
Pate says he's seeing more often it in younger patients, including kids.
"They have tablets that they work on. That's where they do their homework," he explained.
But Dr. Pate says there are ways to ease the irritation. "I try to get them to consider a pair of glasses made specifically on that distance and try to get them using artificial tears to try to get them to prevent dry eyes."
Digital eye strain won't cause permanent damage, but, Dr. Pate says some researchers are worried about the affects of blue lights.
"It's high energy visible light and also blue light is light that you can't see, but definitely that the eye is exposed to. A lot of the research shows blue light actually damages the retina inside of the eye. This can predispose people to macular degeneration and can predispose people to having early age cataracts."
Dr. Pate says it's something doctors are keeping a close eye on, but, in the meantime, he tells his patients they should take steps to limit the amount of exposure they get to digital screens.