With the increased use of smartphones in our daily lives, many have started to ask, “Can you get eye damage from cell phone use?” While the effect of mobile screens on eyes is still being studied, there are some health risks that are already well-established. Learn whether or not you’re at risk of incurring eye damage from cell phone use and what you can do to protect your vision.
Cell phones and vision problems.
The average person looks at their smartphone 150 times or more per day. All that staring from frequent phone use, computer use, and TV-watching can all lead to eye strain, an eye health issue that, when found in this context, is often called Computer Vision Syndrome.
It’s predicted that 2 out of every 3 Americans will experience eye strain caused by excessive phone use. Computer vision syndrome can lead to blurred vision, dry eyes, sore eyes, and headaches. Here are the main reasons why eye strain from phone use can cause these symptoms:
- Blinking Less Often: Blinking helps your eyes redistribute moisture, keeping them from getting dry, and also acts as a natural defense against excessive exposure to outside elements like dust and sunlight. You should blink about 15 times per minute. That number goes down by half when you stare at your smartphone, giving your eyes much less time to recover.
- Squinting: You may not mind reading smaller text on a smartphone screen, but your eyes sure do. Squinting at on-screen text and videos overworks your muscles around your eyes, neck, and shoulders, and is a major cause of eyestrain and blurred vision.
- Excessive Glare: Our eyes aren’t meant to stare directly at light for long periods of time, which is why the glare from the light of your cell phone screen can cause eye strain. Using your phone in the dark to check your emails or social media only exacerbates these negative conditions.
What else causes eye damage from cell phone use? Blue light & macular degeneration.
Very preliminary research from the University of Toledo warns that the blue light emitted from our devices might be increasing cases of macular degeneration. Macular degeneration occurs when our eye’s photoreceptors cells being to die. According to the University of Toledo statement, the blue light from our phones triggers an eye molecule called Retinal, which in turn creates chemical reactions that damage and kill photoreceptor cells.
That said, University of Toledo representatives stipulate that the blue light emanating from our devices may not be strong enough to cause extreme damage to our eyesight. The Sun also produces blue light to a much greater degree and is by far the primary candidate for causing macular degeneration.
Your smartphone-induced health problems may not end with eye strain. Research has shown that spending time on your cell phone before bed can reduce melatonin production, making it harder for you to fall or stay asleep. Cell phone use has also caused an uptick in back and neck problems (from bending over your phone) and repetitive stress injuries in the hands (and the thumbs in particular).
How to protect your eyes from your mobile screen
Smartphones are essential to our lives and, to many people, far worth their health risks. Still, taking the right steps today can drastically reduce the risk of having smartphone vision problems in the future. If you’re not actively avoiding eye strain, consider taking these simple steps to reduce your risk of smartphone-related eye damage:
- Turn Down the Glare: Chances are, your smartphone’s brightness setting is way higher than necessary. Reducing the glare from your screen will make phone use easier on your eyes and can also help you conserve battery life. Simply access your phone’s settings and adjust the brightness to a lower, more comfortable level.
- Adjust Your Text Size: If you have to squint to read on your phone, try making the default font larger so that your on-screen text will be bigger and easier to see
- Remember to Blink: It may sound strange, but reminding yourself to blink while using your smartphone can reduce the amount of strain you place on your eyes. By blinking more often, you’re helping your eyes retain moisture, repel irritants, and remain refreshed all day.
- Take Breaks: This is our most important tip. It is also the hardest to follow. Taking breaks from your smartphone can drastically reduce the amount of strain placed on your eyes. For every 20 minutes spent on your smartphone, spend at least 20 seconds looking away. During those 20 seconds, do your best to stare at something in the distance (20 feet away or more).
Protect your eyesight with Houston’s best eye surgeons
In short, you can get eye damage from cell phone use. If you’re struggling with vision problems (be they caused by cell phone use or not) your best move is to go to Eye Center of Texas, workplace of the top LASIK surgeons in Houston. We have the answers to questions like “which eye surgery is best for me?” or “how do I prevent cataracts?” and know best how to start you down your path towards protected and improved vision.
Eye Center of Texas offers a range of surgical and non-surgical treatments, including Houston LASIK (recommended by over 275 Houston eye doctors!), cataract removal, PRK, and more.
To explore your options, schedule your appointment at Eye Center of Texas today!