We all love our smartphones: they have made life so simple, our loved ones are always in touch with us, we don’t need watches, calendars, or alarm clocks, in fact, they even have reminders to help you remember your medication, and track your health and fitness activities. Despite this, experts are concerned about the potential ill effects of smart phone over use, so much that they are actually warning people. You also must be beware that your smartphone may damage your eyes.
How can your smartphone damage your eyes?
Looking at screen: Prolonged staring at a screen device held in your hands may lead to symptoms like blurred vision, dry eyes and constant headaches, etcetera. This is because of two reasons: one, the convergence muscles get fatigued and may go into spasm, and two, the reduced blinking rate leads to dry and sore eyes.
Straining to read: The small font size on the phone’s screen means increased strain, as the eye struggles to accommodate. This can also lead to dry eye, fatigue, eye and headaches as well as strain.
Prolonged reading: since lots of people watch movies, and even read books on their handheld devices including smartphones and tablets, they spend hours staring at a screen. This can lead to dry eye, convergence insufficiency and Computer Vision Syndrome.
Other major health concerns with overuse of smartphones include:
Sleep wake disturbances: The blue light emitted from mobiles is known to decrease the production of Melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep. Therefore, overuse of these gadgets, especially at bedtime can disturb your sleep cycle.
Anxiety disorders: Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) and anxiety when unable to check their smartphones are common anxiety disorders affecting the users of smartphones, and can become serious mental health issues.
It is for these reasons that ophthalmologists and preventive health specialists have actually issued a warning: Beware-Your smartphone may damage your eyes!
How can we stop the smartphone induced damage to the eyes?
The first step is to be aware that over use of smartphones can damage your eyes. The steps that must be taken to prevent this damage include:
Stop over use of smartphones. While we all agree that smartphones/tablets are indispensable in modern life, we can definitely restrict the time spent with our screen devices. Be conscious of the damage they can cause your eyes, and consciously try and cut down on your screen time.
Take regular breaks. The 20:20:20 rule is the best way of remembering this. Every twenty minutes, take a break for twenty seconds and look at something 20 feet away.
Remember to blink more often. Blinking redistributes the tear film and prevents the eyes from drying.
Always try and read black letters on a white background, and increase the font size to minimize eye strain.
Try and hold your phone at least 30 centimeters away from your eyes, which is the recommended reading distance for books also.
Make sure the ambient light is such that it doesn’t cause glare on the phone screen. Also, do not use the phone in the dark to avoid damage to the eyes.
Remember, almost everything you do uses screens and the time spent on screens adds up. Whether you are working on your laptop, phone, or watching television or playing on the PlayStation, they all affect your eyes. You must aim to keep the total time spent with the screen devices as low as possible.
Use lubricating eye drops if spend a lot of time on a screen. Make sure they are preservative free, and you can even ask your doctor for a prescription.
Go for your regular eye check-ups and make sure the power of your eye glasses is accurate and up to date to minimize strain and fatigue.
In case of persistent eye problems like eye strain, fatigue, dryness, headaches or eye pain, make sure you consult your eye doctor as they can also be symptoms of other diseases beyond just over use of smartphones.