Older millennials more likely to experience light sensitivity than any other group

June 2019

With computers and smart phones now a staple of modern life, how can we make sure we protect our eyes from the glare of the screen?

Among the many fascinating insights uncovered in our recent UK eye health survey poll was one particularly eye-opening statistic: the fact that, of all the age groups we surveyed, 25-34 year olds - generally considered part of the generational group know as Millennials - were far more likely to experience sensitivity to light when driving at night.

Light sensitivity, also known as photophobia, is an intolerance of light. It is often worse in the dark, when factors including low lighting and bright headlights combine to make a driver’s eyes tired and uncomfortable. Thirty seven percent of 25-34 year olds surveyed reported having felt this way, with just under half of them saying it was so bad that they were unable to drive at night. By contrast, only 28% of 18 - 24 year olds and 24% of 35 - 44 polled said they had experienced light sensitivity when driving in the dark.

Given that our eyes change significantly as we age you might expect older drivers to exhibit more problems in terms of light sensitivity than their younger counterparts, especially as this can be a symptom of cataract, but this was not in fact the case: only 27% of those aged 55+ reported having experienced similar issues.

Screen time and eye strain

So what is it about 25-34 year olds that makes them more vulnerable to light sensitivity? Workplace conditions are likely to play a part – previous reports reveal that four out of five 25 - 34 year olds say that their eyes feel strained after a day at work, with the hours spent focusing on computer screens a big factor. It’s not just computers, either: the increasing reliance we all have on our phones has a lot to answer for. People in this age group are the biggest users of smartphones and Ofcom’s most recent report revealed that 60% of under-35s check their phones five minutes before they put their lights out at night.

This last habit is particularly problematic, because recent discoveries indicate that the blue light from screens on devices like smartphones can disrupt sleep, increase the likelihood of eye strain, and even cause blindness.

So if these everyday habits really are impacting our eye health, what can we do to stop them?

Four ways to take care of your eyes

We live in an increasingly digital world, and with global blindness set to triple by 2050 it's certainly worth us all doing what we can to protect our eyes – whatever age box you might tick.

With that in mind, here are a few of our top tips to ensure good eye health.

1. Get your eyes checked at least every two years

This is what opticians recommend to make sure your eyes are in the best health.

2. Take regular screen breaks

Whether it's a computer screen or your smartphone, the more breaks you can take from your devices, the better.

3. Avoid screens before bed

This advice is often given to parents to help ensure their children sleep well but it's equally applicable for adults. The longer time period you can leave between your bedtime and the last screen usage the better, but any restriction will help.

4. Take steps to reduce glare

If you have to check your phone first thing in the morning, make use of the settings on your device to ensure that the brightness. Most phones allow you to adjust the settings so it's always at the right level for the room you're in.