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Are there dangers to eyes from use of cell phone screens

By editor
June 27, 2016

Eye Strain from Cell Phone | Optometrist Ventura | Opthalmology VenturaNowadays most people spend many hours staring at that "blue screen" - on their smart phone, tablet, TV or computer.  Some people report up to 9 hours per day use of a digital screen, counting work related computer use, and play time at home, texting to the kids and spouses, television watching and looking up information on the home computer.  This article states that a lot of time in front of the "blue screen" can cause eye issues: http://www.everydayhealth.com/healthy-living/how-technology-is-hurting-your-eyes.aspx

Different temporary problems have been reported to doctors for many years: eye strain, dry and itchy eyes, blurry vision. Those issues are not that difficult to remedy: blink more, lubricate your eyes, change your position in front of the screen or monitor, and take frequent breaks.  Or reduce your time in front of the "blue screen" altogether by doing more outdoor activities, participating in sports and exercise, and starting an active hobby that does not involve computer or cell phone.

There are other problems that are caused by the prolonged use of screens and monitors - dizziness, lower levels of melatonin and resulting disrupted sleep patterns.  These issues are also temporary and can be easily reversed by using the methods described above.

However, some researchers and doctors are now starting to suggest that electronic devices could cause longer term eye problems.  There is no overwhelming proof out there yet, however we should still consider that the increase in use of electronic devices could cause some permanent change in our bodies, and specifically eyes.


The old wife's tale that sitting too close to TV causes you to go "cross-eyed" was proven not to be true.  However, visits to eye doctors have increased with the increase use of electronic devices.  This is a fact reported by many doctors.

It is also proven that prolonged use of computer and cell phone screens often causes strain. In fact, eye doctors have reported that 1 out of 4 patients complain about eye strain.  So could strain cause long term problems in your eyes?  Is there permanent damage from constant strain?  These articles shed some light on this question:



There is definitely an indication that more eye and vision complaints and visits to the doctors have been occurring with the increased use of electronic devices.  More cases of myopia (nearsightedness) have been documented.  Children's eyes could change shape and become more prone to myopia because of constant focusing on close objects - such as cell and computer screens.

Children of younger and younger age start using "blue screens" for longer and longer periods.  They stare and focus more on small screens earlier in life when their eyes are just developing.  This causes the eye to change shape while it is not mature and is still growing.

Well - but you would say - "People and children were reading books close to the eyes for centuries. Why are the electronic devices necessarily worse than staring into a book?"   To answer this - doctors and researchers say that blue light of the screens has a bigger influence on eyes than books, because smaller screens with small letters are held closer to the eyes, often for longer periods of time than books, the use sometimes is in bed or in uncomfortable position, sometimes during some other activities people look out of a corner of their eyes to catch their cell phone screen.  Also, in the time of books, children and adults alike were more involved in outdoor activities - when eyes look far in the distance, thus close focusing was counteracted by looking in the distance.  Therefore we can see that impacts to eyes from reading books are different than from using small screens.

Researchers found evidence that cell phones could cause early cataracts. Read this article to see the details of their research:


Other possible damage to eyes could come from electromagnetic radiation that results from electronic devices.  Researches say that eyes are vulnerable to heating effects from radio waves.  Radio waves could cause cancer as suggested by a study published by German Researchers.  A solid proof still has not been produced however.


Whether "blue screens" result in only temporary detriments to our eyes, or there is a danger of permanent damage and severe diseases, we can do something to prevent either from occurring.  And the recipe is not difficult or expensive:

1. Maintain a comfortable working distance at the computer (close to arm’s length from the screen) and avoid hunching closer and closer.

2. When using a phone keep the screen as far away from your eyes as comfortably possible — the greater the distance your phone is from your eye, the less eye strain it is likely to cause — provided the print size and images are large enough for comfortable viewing.

3. Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and look off into the distance — at something 20 feet away. This is called the “20-20-20 rule” by many eye care providers, and it relaxes the focusing muscle inside the eye, relaxes the muscles outside the eyes that converge the eyes (points them inward to stay aligned on near objects), and stimulates blinking to re-moisten the surface of the eyes — all comforting things!

4. Get an eye exam.  Even minor problems with your eyesight can increase your risk for digital eye strain. Also, ask your eye care professional about the best type of glasses for your digital viewing needs. You might benefit from eyewear specifically prescribed for computer or other digital device use.

5. Ask your eye care provider about glasses that block blue light. There are a number of brands of eyeglass lenses and coatings that can reduce your exposure to HEV light when using digital devices.

6. Make sure your eyeglass lenses (if you need them) have an anti-reflective (AR) coating. Eliminating reflections from your lenses can increase viewing comfort and reduce eye strain.

7. Reduce unnecessary use of the "blue screen" and you will do good to your eyes.  Go outside and play more!

Eye Glasses, Ophthalmology


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