Is Your Phone Damaging Your Eyesight?

A young man and woman smile at a cell phone. The woman is holding a laptop as well.

Almost everyone is spending more time staring at their phone these days. From navigation and texting to FaceTime video streaming, the time we are spending on our phones has dramatically increased over the last decade.

But all this additional time is having a serious impact on our eye health. We’ve put together some of the top ways your phone may be affecting your eyes and what you can do to reduce the strain.

Eye strain

The most common problem related to extended screen time is eye strain, which now affects approximately 70% of adults in the U.S. according to a recent study. When you stare at a digital screen your pupils get slightly smaller in order to adjust to the brightness. This results in the eye muscles straining, which will tire your eyes after extended periods of time.

Headaches and dry eye

Headaches are a common side effect associated with eye strain, and it results from the typically high contrast in digital screens between dark fonts and bright backgrounds. These kinds of headaches are known as tension headaches, and they are becoming increasingly common as the average amount of screen time notches up.
Digital screens are also responsible for many cases of dry eye, which can cause itching and discomfort. This is due to the fact that you blink less often when you are staring at a screen, and blinking helps keep moisture in the eyes.

Long-term eye damage

It is undeniable that staring at digital screens for too long causes short-term eyesight issues, but there are early studies that are suggesting that it may be having long-term impacts on our eyesight as well. The rates of nearsightedness are dramatically on the rise, and many believe it is due to the increase in the amount of “near work” we are doing with our phones.

Caring for your eyes in a screen-dominated world

You’re not likely to give up your smartphone, and you may even have to use a computer for your job, so how do you go about safeguarding your eye health in a world that is awash with digital screens?

First, take breaks whenever you can. A good rule of thumb is the “20-20-20” rule – every 20 minutes, look up at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.

Many smartphone operating systems now even feature tools that track your screen usage and allow you to set limits. If you use a computer screen at work, turn off your monitor periodically and look at paper documents, or better yet, get up and take a short walk. Try to remember to blink as much as possible.

We can’t be totally free of the influence of digital screens on our eyes, but we can limit the damage. In addition to the tips above, the best thing you can do for your long-term eye health is to consult with an eye specialist on a regular basis.

The physicians and staff at Florida Eye Specialists are dedicated to helping patients protect their eyes as much as possible in the era of the smartphone. If you would like to schedule an eye examination, or you just have questions about smartphone usage and your eye health, book an appointment today at one of our seven locations across the northeast Florida area.