With screen use soaring, asthenopia is an especially common problem these days, affecting roughly 60% of the adult population using digital devices. Luckily, it looks like contact lens wear isn’t exacerbating the problem; in fact, new research suggests they might provide a modicum of relief. Researchers recently found that frequent and severe eye fatigue is highly prevalent among both soft contact lens and non–contact lens wearers, with soft contact lens wearers experiencing symptoms at a lower frequency and severity.

The study included 602 soft contact lens wearers and 127 non-wearers who reported using digital devices at least four hours per day. Each participant completed a questionnaire assessing the frequency and severity of 10 symptoms commonly associated with digital device-related eye fatigue.

The investigators reported that 89% of the soft lens wearers experienced eye fatigue more than once a month and more than 60% said they experienced symptoms more than once a week. Eye strain/pain, dryness and tiredness were the most frequently endorsed symptoms by both groups. The researchers noted that the frequency of eye fatigue symptoms did not differ between the soft contact and non–contact lens groups, although they found some differences based on the type of symptoms reported. The team discovered that eye dryness and irritation were significant factors that differed between both groups on the basis of frequency and severity.

Based on the respondents’ answers, the researchers grouped symptoms to identify three main factors affected by digital device use: primary sensation factors include eye strain/pain, soreness and tiredness and headaches, secondary or surface sensation factors include eye burning, irritation, tearing and dryness while blurred/double vision and floating/moving words constitute a visual sensations factor.

The researchers hope identifying these key descriptors of digital eye fatigue can help clinicians “identify and evaluate specific causative, palliative or ameliorating factors.”

Meyer D, Rickert M, Kollbaum P. Ocular symptoms associated with digital device use in contact lens and non-contact lens groups. Cont Lens Ant Eye. September 11, 2020. [Epub ahead of print].