Symptoms from excessive screen time cost the U.S. $73 billion a year, study finds


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American workers are spending too much time looking at screens.

More than 104 million people in the U.S., including nearly 70% of people working office jobs, spend upwards of seven hours a day looking at screens, according to a Tuesday report from the Deloitte Economics Institute and the American Optometric Association.

As a result, symptoms of “excessive screen time,” or more than seven hours of screen time a day, are costing the U.S. $73 billion per year, the report said. The figure was determined by analyzing the direct financial costs incurred by health systems, the symptoms’ impact on productivity at work, and their perceived impact on an individual’s well-being.

The omnipresence of screens in everyday life puts people at a higher risk of contending with eye problems like digital eye strain, or DES, which can cause symptoms like neck and back pain, blurred vision, headaches and dry eyes.

Just two hours of screen time per day can induce these symptoms, and if left untreated, the study found they can “lead to decreased productivity, exacerbate other undiagnosed eye conditions and may affect an individual’s sleep quality and mental health.”

However, the adverse impact of conditions like DES, as well as direct costs to the individual, can be mitigated through regular visits to an eye doctor, using eye drops and wearing appropriate glasses, according to the report.

The study found that people with excessive screen time exposure could save as much as $1,920 per person by seeing an optometrist and managing their symptoms.

“These findings further underscore the importance of better screen time habits and receiving annual, in-person comprehensive eye exams with an AOA doctor of optometry to maintain your eye and overall health,” Ronald Benner, president of the AOA said in a release.

A sample of 1,000 survey responses of men and women aged 18 through 64 from across 50 states, as well as a review of existing data and literature, were used to conduct this study, the report said.

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