How To Protect Your Eyes From Smartphone Strain

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With so many of us using computers at work, computer eye strain has become a major job-related complaint. Studies show that eye strain and other bothersome visual symptoms occur in 50 to 90 percent of computer workers.These problems can range from physical fatigue, decreased productivity and increased numbers of work errors, to minor annoyances like eye twitching and red eyes.

Your smartphone is a sight for sore eyes. Literally.

If you’re one of those people who glances at their smartphone 150 times a day, chances are your eyes are paying the price for your screen addiction.Staring at your smartphone — or tablet, e-reader or laptop, while we’re at it  — for too long can lead to tired, itchy, dry eyes, and even blurred vision and headaches. Think zombie eyes and you’re there.

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.

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.

Luckily you can minimize inevitable digital eye strain by blending a few simple, healthy habits into your smartphone-gazing routine.

Blink, blink and blink again

Blinking often (and for more than a second) keeps your eyes moist and reduces dryness and irritation. We tend blink about a third less than we normally would when we stare lovingly at our precious smartphone screens, which starves our poor peepers of protective tears. Keep your eyes wet by blinking about 10 times every 1 minute or so and you should be good to go. Bonus: Blinking often helps refocus your eyes, too.

Minimize glare

Unless you have a smartphone equipped with anti-glare Corning Gorilla Glass or use a matte screen protector film, you’re probably coping with a fair amount of annoying reflective glare. The fix is easy and inexpensive: Buy an anti-reflective coating and (carefully) slap it on your smartphone screen. They range between about $1 and $20 on Amazon.com and in most mobile service provider stores. Bonus: Anti-glare screen protectors also fend off fingerprints.

Take breaks

Sounds scary, right? But your eyes will thank you. By now you’ve probably heard of the 20-20-20 rule. The concept is to take a break from looking at your screen every 20 minutes for 20 seconds while looking at something 20 feet away. Doing so relaxes your eye muscles (and gives you ample time to contemplate which fun, new iPhone or Android app you’ll play with next).

Adjust your brightness

Having your screen too bright or too dark stresses your eyes out and can cause problems maintaining focus. To eliminate either issue in about a matter of seconds, simply go into your smartphone settings and adjust your screen brightness so it’s about the same as the light level in the environment around you. Wait — that is unless you’re in the pitch black dark squinting at your smartphone in bed, which, by the way, can lead to insomnia and less sex).
Tweak your text size and contrast

Adjusting your smartphone text contrast and size also provides a little much-needed relief. It makes it easier to read web content, email messages, calendar appointments and everything else on your phone.

Keep a clean screen

Routinely wipe down your smartphone screen with a dry (not wet!) cleaning cloth to remove distracting dust, grime, smudges and fingerprints.

Hold your smartphone farther away

It’s ok. You don’t have to put it all the way down. We promise. Most people tend to hold their cell phones only about 8 inches from their faces. Not good. Try holding yours at least 16 to 18 inches away from your eyes to give your eyes a break. It might feel funny at first but shouldn’t take long to get used to.

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