Have you ever wonder, how much time are you spending on your smartphone everyday?
While there is no standard metric of how much time on a smartphone is too much, based on the statistics from Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends 2014 report, people these days spend up to 7.4 hours per day. And these statistics continue to increase as technology advances.
“We’re spending almost as much time staring at screens as we do sleeping.”
Source: Lookout, a survey of 2000 Americans Commissioned by Lookout.
According to the study, on average 58% of Americans stated that they typically couldn’t go an hour without checking their smartphones. Unsurprisingly, this hourly phone-checking fixation was significantly greater in the 18-34 demographic at an alarming 68%.
The data confirms habitual phone-checking is widespread, with over half the smartphone-owning population checking their phone at least once an hour, and up to 150 times of checking their phones every day.
Interestingly, this phone checking habit is not just at work or school but takes place in the bed and even bathroom.
It’s a universal truth that we can’t live without the smartphone.
The integration of smartphones into the modern lifestyle has changed the way we live, the way we socialize and thus has also become the biggest threat to our eye health.
“A 2015 report from The Vision Council found that 61% of Americans have experienced eye strain after prolonged use of electronic devices — nearly 2 out of every 3 people. Long-term damage or not, we have an outbreak of eye strain on our hands.”
How the digital screen from smartphone damages your eyes
1. Blue (HEV) light kills the cells of your retina
Blue light is high energy light emitted through the digital screen from smartphones, laptops, TV, LED bulbs etc. Prolonged exposure to blue light can damage the tissue in the retina of the eye, and potentially increase the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – a leading cause of permanent vision loss in older adults.
Furthermore, blue light also can interrupt our sleeping pattern and reduce our sleeping quality.
2. Smartphones have smaller screens, and easily lead to Digital Eye Strain
As most of the time we need to squint to read from our miniature screens, our facial, neck shoulder muscles tighten and our eyes become fatigued and vision can be strained. This series of symptoms is known as Digital Eye Strain. This can eventually result in nearsightedness for kids and increase the risk of developing eyes problems such as dry eyes, blurry vision, presbyopia and so on.
3. People forget to blink their eyes while they are reading on a smartphone
Normally, we blink about 15-20 times per minute. But when staring at a smartphone, we tend to blink about five times less than usual! Blinking might seem like an unimportant activity, but it lubricates the eyes. Not blinking properly can lead to dry eyes, inflammation, redness and more serious conditions.
4. Smartphone give you a puffy and dark circle eyes
After using your smartphone for an entire day, your eyes become tired and distended. The more you squint, the more you increase the chance of crow’s feet, and puffy eyes because of lack of circulation. You can also develop dark circles under the eyes.
5. Staring at your smartphone in bed, in the dark can cause temporary blindness
Texting on your phone at night in a dark room can cause lasting damage. This bad habit can initially cause dry eyes, headaches and blurry vision, but may also temporarily shut down your vision.Furthermore, many smartphone users also find that they have sore muscles on their neck, shoulders, arms or upper back area due to the poor posture while sitting, standing, walking when using their smartphone.
What can you do to protect your eyes?
While we are unable to totally avoid using our smartphones for various reasons, here are a few simple strategies you can use to protect your eyes from your screens.
1. Practice the 20:20:20 rule
Take a break every 20 minutes for 20 seconds, and look at something that’s at least 20 feet away. This is the golden rules for eyes health — try to look out a window or somewhere far when your eyes are tired, this is the best way to give your eye muscles a good stretch.
2. Remember to blink
This may sound silly, but it is actually very important. Blinking is the best way to nourish your eyes, give them a wash and a moment to refresh.
3. Turn off your phone at bedtime
This is the best way to keep your smartphone from interfering with your sleep and ensuring you get a “real” break from it. What you can do instead is to opt for more relaxing activities before bedtimes, such as listening to calming music or meditation.
4. Adjust the brightness, contrast and text size
Brightness, contrast and text size are the three aspects of a smartphone that affect eyesight the most. Brightness and contract that is too high or too low are both harmful to the eyes.
5. Warm compresses for the eye to relieve tiredness
Warm compresses are useful for temporarily relieving discomfort caused by tired eyes. It also helps to promote blood circulation and reduces puffiness and dark circles under the eyes.
6. Get an eye examination
Even minor problems with your eyesight can increase your risk for eye diseases, and many eye diseases are irreversible. Therefore it is important to take an eye examination, as prevention is better than cure.