How to hold your phone so it doesn’t (completely) wreck your vision
Spending half the day staring into a 10 cm (four-inch) screen may also wreck one’s eyesight, new research suggests — and the devices may not be to blame so much as how we hold them.
David Allamby, an eye surgeon and the founder of Focus Clinics in London, recently coined the term “screen sightedness” and pointed out that according to his research, there has been a 35% increase in the number of people with advancing myopia since smartphones launched in 1997.
Allamby is concerned that use of portable devices could increase cases of myopia in children of another 50% in ten years!
Nearsightedness affects more than 30 % of the population of the U.S and more than 80% in Asia. The environmental factors that contribute include “close work,” or stress on the eye caused by reading or otherwise focusing on near visual tasks.
Using a smartphone strains the eyes in much the same way reading a book or staring at a computer monitor does, with one exception — the distance between the eye and the object. When a phone or other device is held close to one’s face, it forces the eye to work harder than usual to focus on text, says Mark Rosenfield, an optometrist. The discomfort can eventually result in fatigue.
People tend to hold smartphones considerably closer to their faces than they would a book or newspaper, even as close as seven or eight inches, Rosenfield says. And since smartphones have such a small screen, the importance of visual stress tends to be higher than for other devices.
Holding a smartphone farther away (but still using it the same amount) won’t necessarily prevent myopia entirely, Schaal said. But holding the phone at least 16 inches away from the face during use can be beneficial, Rosenfield says.
He also suggests taking breaks from using the phone. During those breaks, it is helpful to look into the distance, which relaxes the eye as it focuses on faraway detail instead of what is close.
Young children’s eyes may be spared early damage by limiting smartphone and tablet use, doctors say. Spending hours playing games or otherwise intently viewing a screen causes children’s eyes to exert effort for long periods. In the past, children focused on larger objects like blocks or toys, rather than such fine detail. They should be encouraged to engage in a variety of activities with different focusing targets of both near and far away objects.