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By: May Ling Tham

As technology increasingly shapes the way we work, interact and live, it too poses a potential risk to our eyes. Digital devices are designed for close range usage, where eyes are required to constantly refocus and reposition to process content. Over usage of such devices can cause eye fatigue, irritation and vision problems. These symptoms are medically known as computer vision syndrome (CVS) or digital eye strain.

Creating
awareness

The Vision Council, a US non-profit trade association, aims to create awareness of the value and importance of vision care. In a 2012 survey sponsored by the Vision Council, it was found that nearly 70% of American adults experience some form of digital eye strain due to the use of digital devices. Click to Tweet! More surprisingly, many experiencing digital eye strain were found to do nothing to lessen their discomfort, due to lack of knowledge.

Targeting technology enthusiasts, the Vision Council leveraged upon the world’s largest tech show, the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2013, which ended its four day exhibit on 11 January 2013. During CES 2013, the Vision Council took the opportunity to raise awareness of digital eye strain to the 150,000 attendees of the show, educating and reinforcing safe eye behaviour. Attendees were shown how to prevent digital eye strain through small adjustments to habits and usage of digital devices, and through the usage of computer eyewear products.

Japanese
leading the way

While the Americans may be new to computer eyewear products, computer eyewear has already taken Japan by storm. One Japanese manufacturer, J!NS has a range of J!NS’s PC eyewear, which are meant for heavy computer usage. It claims that by wearing these specific glasses, one can safeguard from the blue light which is emitted in computers, televisions and smartphones and in turn, enhance display clarity and reduce eye fatigue. Available in an array of rainbow colours, the lightweight flexible eyewear has been snapped up by fashion-crazed Japanese consumers. This range of eyewear was also ranked number six by Nikkei in its annual “Hit Products Best 30” in Japan for 2012. A pair of non-prescription J!NS PC is priced economically at about US$45 and can be conveniently purchased online via the popular Japanese online shopping portal Rakuten.

No longer
the usual competition

With technology continually finding ways into our daily lives, computer eyewear is steadily making its way into becoming a mainstream product. This opens up a new eyewear audience previously untapped by eyewear companies. The potentially huge market is currently seen with a handful of small eyewear firms such as the American Gunnar Optiks and French Best Vision International (BVI) dabbling in the arena.

On the other hand, technology companies are increasingly breaking barriers and moving into the eyewear industry. Elecom, an Osaka-based electronics company, known for its modern designs for computer peripherals, launched a line of PC glasses in Japan in late 2012. Elecom PC glasses are positioned slightly cheaper than that of J!NS PC and can be purchased at around US$34-US$40. Within a short time frame of three months, the company has announced intentions to broaden its line of non-prescription computer glasses, following success of the earlier launch. It is virtually beyond doubt that more technology companies will find their way into the global eyewear industry, which is expected to expand by 5% and exceed US$120 billion in 2013. It is therefore crucial for eyewear companies to act fast before losing this burgeoning niche to yet another tech firm.

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