Tiny Screens Can Cause Big Vision Problems



As much as we depend on our mobile devices for viewing and responding to emails, checking the weather, reading headline news, and posting status updates on Facebook, our smartphones may be causing us some vision problems. Staring at those tiny screens can bring on an array of eye issues such as blurred vision, headaches, sore eyes, headaches, muscle strain and dry eye.

According to Jeff Taylor, M.D., Medical Director for YourSightMatters.com, at least 1 out of every 4 eye patients complains about eye strain due to reading text on a small screen. Normally, we blink about 15 times per minute, but this rate decreases by half when we are staring at our smartphone. As we squint to read these miniature screens, our facial, neck and shoulder muscles tighten, eyes become fatigued and vision can be blurred or strained. This series of symptoms is known as Computer Vision Syndrome.

Smartphones can also cause other issues as well. The iPhone's newest update seems to affect balance and stability with the new icons zooming in and out. Users have complained of dizziness. Reading in bed can affect sleep patterns due to the blue light emitted from the screen. This light can decrease levels of melatonin and make it harder to fall asleep. For all the help that our phones and electronic devices offer, they are literally giving us a headache.

The answer is not to stop using your smartphone. Rather, implement a system where you take regular breaks about every 20 minutes or so. This is known as the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, stare at something at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This will help rest your eyes and prevent fatigue and strain that causes those familiar headaches, soreness and blurred vision. This is especially important for children who may be new to having a phone or who may not remember to give their eyes a rest. Don't be afraid to set some clear boundaries and guidelines for children so they can learn self control and moderation in using their electronic devices.

Computer Vision Syndrome should be temporary, so if you notice that your vision is not returning to normal you should visit your eye doctor and share your concerns. It is important to stay current with your comprehensive eye exams to keep your vision clear and healthy (Source: The Boston Globe).