Is Your Smartphone Hurting Your Eyes? An Overview of Digital Eye Strain

We love our smartphones. Right now, an estimated 87% of Canadians rely on them to do work, communicate with friends, entertain themselves, and even shop for groceries. That panicked feeling you get when you misplace or lose your phone is not a mere overreaction: without it, how will you check in with the boss, let your friend know you’re running late, or schedule an Uber ride home?

Yes, smartphones make our lives easier, but when used incorrectly, they can also lead to eye strain. In this blog, we’ll review how digital eye strain occurs and what you can do to prevent phone use from causing future eye problems.

How Does Digital Eye Strain Happen?

Even if you’ve always enjoyed healthy vision, staring at your phone screen for a lengthy period of time can lead to headaches and/or eye problems like the following:

  • Blurred vision
  • Dry eye (One study found that 18% of digital screen users in its control group had dry eye syndrome)
  • Tired, itchy eyes
  • Red, watery eyes

According to this study, you can start to experience digital eye strain after just one hour of exposure. Another study goes so far as to state that the more you use your phone (both daily and over time), the more likely you are to develop multiple eye conditions- in some cases, as many as seven!

How to Protect Your Eyes From Digital Eye Strain

Smartphones are here to stay, but there are ways you can use them without harming your vision. Here are some tips you can implement immediately/

1. Follow the 20/20/20 Rule

Your eyes aren’t meant to stare at a single focus point all day. During long workdays, you can give your eyes a much-needed break by following the 20/20/20 rule, which says that when you stare at a screen for 20 minutes, look at something at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds. However, the longer you look away from your screen, the better!

2. Reduce Glare

Digital screen glare can cause eye strain since it prevents your eyes from adapting as easily as they should to the content you’re trying to focus on. Use anti-glare matte screen protectors on your phone if possible and if you wear glasses, make sure they have anti-reflective coatings.

3. Adjust Screen Settings

We often forget that we can customize our screens since they look great right out of the box. However, all smartphones allow you to reduce the risk of digital eye strain by adjusting the contrast, brightness, and text settings. You can-

  • Lower the brightness when you’re indoors or set your phone to automatically adjust the brightness based on the environment
  • Make text messages easier to read by increasing the text size

4. Use Night Mode

Modern smartphones have night mode features that can reduce eye strain when you’re using the device at night. Just turn the feature on, and your phone will automatically adjust screen settings.

5. Don’t Forget To Blink!

When we use smartphones and tablets, it’s easy to forget to blink. We become so absorbed in the content that we simply stare at the screen. By blinking, we keep our eyes moist and refocus them. Avoid strain and dryness by doing it often.

Experiencing Digital Eye Strain? Contact UOptical Today!

If you’re already dealing with uncomfortable symptoms like dry eye and headaches, help is available. At UOptical, our eye specialists can diagnose digital eye strain problems, offer excellent treatment and care, and help you make the most of your vision. Schedule your appointment today by calling (416) 292-0075 or contacting us online.

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Our optometrists are glad to help customers in Toronto and the GTA with any eye-related inquiries. Our on-site optometry experts can help you choose the perfect fit and frame that suit the needs of your prescription.

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