Cant’ take your eyes off your smartphone? Keep a watchful eye on this habit!

The World Mobile Phone Free Week is starting today! For some, if not most of us, the mere idea of a smartphone free day is almost unfathomable. However, we will be talking about our eyes’ health this month, so we would like to be all eyes on the impact of excessive smartphone use on our eyes, or more specifically, the impact, and solutions of smartphone use on our sight.
Nomophobia … No, this is not a controversial debate on gender dynamics, but rather the angst of not having our cell phone within reach. Ironically, the phone that was once used for the sole purpose of making phone calls is used today mostly for other reasons : to follow and answer emails, manage our time table, watch videos on Youtube, do an online search, follow our virtual or real friends through Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, Instagram, etc. No wonder why most of us have now become nomophobes.

The results on our eyes include visual disturbances, sleep disturbance, a damaged retina caused by our screen’s blue light, among others. With the 2010s’ being dubbed “the smartphone decade”, it goes without saying that we cannot yet have a bird’s eye view on smartphones’ impacts on our long-term health, especially our eyes’ health. However, quite a few studies have been done on this matter.

Blue light’s impact
According to a recent study, blue light emanating from smartphones, tablets, or laptops is harmful for the retina, causing premature reduced vision. In other words, we may gradually lose our eyesight, because this blue light damages the cells of the retina. These damaged cells do not regenerate, and this would cause aging of the eyesight.

And if you cannot get a wink of sleep at night and have bags under your eyes when you wake up in the morning, look no further! Blue light also has a detrimental impact on our sleep, because it disrupts our sleep cycle if we use our cell phone or tablet excessively in the evening before going to bed.

Other publications report asthenopia, or eyestrain, which is said to be caused by the eyes’ dryness. Smartphone use reduces the frequency with which we blink, a move that usually lubricates our eyes.
With the use of smartphones, tablets, or laptops, our eyes have to accommodate rapidly, adding to the eyestrain. Thus, due to the different character sizes between SMS, emails, online articles, the difference in brightness between these different devices, or the shortening of the distance between our eyes and what we read on our devices, our eyes’ activity increases.

Let’s look for solutions!
But how do we manage this impact on our sight in a digital society where we are increasingly confronted to digital devices? The reality is such that we can hardly do without our smartphone now.
There are thus different ways to deal with it, including:
• -by activating the blue light filter on our smartphone or tablet, or by using specific applications for the same result
• -by making the effort of blinking more often in front of our digital devices. By blinking often (and for more than a second), the eyes stay moist and dryness and irritation are reduced.
• -by applying the 20-20-20 rule, that is to say by having a quick break of 20 seconds every 20 minutes and staring at an object 20 feet (about 6 meters) away
• -by keeping our smartphone at least 40 to 50 cm from our eyes, because we sometimes hold it only 20 cm away.
• -by reducing the amount of time we are exposed to smartphones and avoiding its use at least one hour before sleep
• -by using eyeglass lenses especially designed for blue light protection, (whether we need optical correction or not), and which are available from certain opticians.
So, whether you want to have eagle’s eyes or be as blind as a bat, it’s up to you to choose! In the meantime, if this information has been an eye opener for you and should you require additional information, or advice / exams, feel free to call Clinique Bon Pasteur at 401-9500, and in the blink of an eye, one of the ophthalmologists on duty there will be happy to assist you.

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