Tina Patel, optician at Feel Good Contacts explains that even if you have perfectly good eyesight, extensive use of smartphones can affect your eye health. Here she offers tips on how to keep your eyes healthy when you’re getting too much screen time.
In an age where much of what we do is shaped or influenced by technology, it’s no surprise that most people are addicted to their smartphones. Of course, the smartphone is an ingenious invention, allowing us to communicate, share and learn on-the-go, however users should take caution – especially when it comes to their eye health.
What is eye strain?
It’s hard to avoid digital screens when we rely on computers to get work/studies done. Even when the day is over, we often use screens in our leisure time to watch shows or scroll through social media. It feels like we’re always looking at a screen! Over time, this can lead to eyestrain, even for those with perfectly good eyesight.
Eye strain is a condition that causes your eyes to feel tired and irritated from staring at digital screens for too long. Symptoms of eyestrain include:
∙ Irritated eyes
∙ Aching eyes
∙ Dry eyes (as a result of not blinking enough)
If you experience one or more of these uncomfortable symptoms you should book an eye test.
Blink More Often
Staring at a smartphone screen for long periods of time can cause your eyes to become dry and sore. This leads to discomfort and if not tended to, could produce severe problems further down the line.
Every time you blink, your eyes are replenished with moisture which they need throughout the day to function at their best. To avoid dry eyes, remember to blink regularly when using your smartphone, no matter how interesting the task is.
If your eyes do become dry, it may be worth having some eye drops to hand, as these help to add moisture.
Use Bigger Fonts
Eye strain from smartphone use can occur as a result of squinting the eyes to read tiny fonts. Smartphone screens are much smaller than regular laptop or PC screens, which means reading long pieces of text on them can be trickier.
Increasing the size of the font on your smartphone will make reading from your phone easier. This can be done in the Settings tab, with many phones providing the option for large fonts that are tailored to those with poor vision.
Keep the Screen at Eye Level
Holding your smartphone at eye level or just below will feel more natural for your eyes, making it less likely that you’ll experience eye strain.
Keep your distance
A smartphone should be held at a distance of about 35cm away from your eyes in adults. That’s usually arm’s length away with a slight bend in the elbow. The distance gradually increases as we approach our early 40s and most people will require reading spectacles from around the age of 45.
Take regular screen breaks
Just like with all digital screens, taking regular breaks is important to keeping your eyes happy. Practice the 20-20-20 rule – every 20 minutes look 20 feet into the distance for at least 20 seconds.
Go for Regular Eye Tests
Whether you use a smartphone regularly or not, it is important to go for regular eye tests (every 2 years). The optician will check your eye health and advise if you need prescription glasses.
Please note that you may need to visit an optician more regularly if you have poor vision, a medical condition such as diabetes or if directed to by your optician.