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Excessive Screen Time Cost Americans $151 Billion in 2023

Photo from Glenn Carstens Peters via Unsplash

Excessive Screen Time Cost Americans $151 Billion in 2023

By Movieguide® Contributor

A joint study from the Deloitte Economics Institute and the American Optometric Association (AOA) found that excessive screen time affects productivity and well-being, costing Americans $151 billion last year.

“It is impossible to ignore the impact that digital devices have had on our daily lives, particularly in the workplace,” said Deloitte Economics Institute partner Simone Cheung. “Through our study with AOA, we were able to quantify the cost of unmanaged screen time and gain insight into the impact on not only American’s health, but employers and the overall health system.”

Over 104 million Americans experience “excessive screen time”–spending over 7 hours on digital screens–daily. This places people at risk of developing eye-related injuries, including digital eye strain, computed vision syndrome, blurred vision and headaches, while also impacting sleep quality and mental health.

The impact on the American health system, combined with reduced productivity, cost the average American $1,920 per year, amounting to $151 billion across the country.

Though most workers have no say in their screen time, the study found that proper preventative care can restore much of these costs. Topical solutions, improved ergonomics and appropriate eyewear can prevent the majority of these adverse effects, restoring an estimated $45.5 billion in productivity and $26.3 billion in well-being.

Another way to relieve eye strain is the 20-20-20 rule. “The 20-20-20 rule calls for you to look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes you’re in front of a screen,” CNET reported.

“Up until now, we could see in our practices anecdotally that America’s excessive screen time-use had very real consequences for eye health,” said AOA President Ronald L. Benner, O.D. “Through this report, we have even more data showing that not visiting a doctor of optometry can have notable cost implications and potentially reduce quality of life.”

“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,” he continued.

The study further found that a significant number of Americans are suffering unknowingly, as 31% of U.S. adults have not visited an optometrist within the past year, and 55 % of this group has vision-related symptoms that could be resolved.

Symptoms of excessive screen time also impact children, with many spending upwards of 40 hours a week or more on their devices. This has led to an uptick in myopia (near-sightedness) among the younger generation.

Movieguide® previously reported:

As people spend more of their daily on screens, rates of myopia, a condition that can eventually result in blindness, are increasing.

“When our eyes spend more time focusing on near objects, like phones, screens or even paperbacks, it makes our eyeballs elongate, which prevents the eye from bending light the way it should. This elongation increases nearsightedness, called myopia,” the Guardian reported.

“The longer the eyeball becomes, the worse vision gets,” Wired added.

Eye surgeon Pei-Chang Wu’s concern over this trend grew as he began operating on younger patients. “In 2016, Wu performed a scleral buckle surgery—fastening a belt around the eye to fix the retina into place—on a 14-year-old girl, a student at an elite high school in Kaohsiung. Another patient, a prominent programmer who had worked for Yahoo, suffered two severe retinal detachments and was blind in both eyes by age 29,” Wired reported.