Is your smart phone harming your eyes?

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By: Pavitra Sampath

How often do you use your cell phone before you fall asleep? Do you keep it close to your bed as you sleep and wake up in the middle of the night because you heard it buzzing? Well, despite what you might think, looking at that screen for long hours or even falling asleep with it next to you can be extremely harmful to your eyes. Here’s everything you need to know about the damage from continuously peering at your phone screen. You may also like to read about the health hazards of cell phones.

Does the light from a cell phone screen harm a person’s eyes?

Dr Atul Gupta, Consultant Refractive surgeon, Asst. Professor of Ophthalmology, says, “Yes, a person may suffer from headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes and eye strain. These conditions get aggravated if one already has some visual impairment like farsightedness and presbyopia.”

People have a habit of using their phones while they are about to go to bed, which is usually in a dark room. Is the bright light from the telephone screen bad for one’s eyes?

According to Dr Padmashree Keiki Mehta, “It is a well-established  fact that the blue light emitting from mobile devices can suppress the production of melatonin, which normally helps to regulate sleep. Thus, heavy cellphone users would have difficulty sleeping at night.” You may also like to read about mobile phones and your health.

Dr Atul says that using phones just before going to bed can be extremely harmful to one’s health more than their eyes. Radiation from the handset can also cause headaches and early cataract. Apart from that, direct exposure to blue light can cause damage to the retina.

According to one study, bluish/violet light is bad for the back of one’s eyes and is known to lead to macular degeneration. Is this true?

“Yes. Blue light is harmful as it’s the highest energy wavelength of visible light. This energy is capable of penetrating all the way to the back of the eye, through the eyes’ natural filters, possibly leading to cataracts and other eye diseases such as retinal damage”, says Dr Atul. Cell phones can be dirty too, here’s exactly how dirty they actually are. 

What should one keep in mind while using a cell phone, to keep their eyes safe? 

Here are some tips from Dr Atul.

  • Do not stare at your mobile screen continuously.
  • Do not ignore eye strain. Even minor problems with your eyesight can increase your risk for digital eye strain.
  • Keep your phone at least 4-5 ft away from the bed when you sleep.

That being said, Dr Mehta says, “One should also blink more while they are using their phone, as it can prevent their eyes from getting dry. A good way to do that is to increase the contrast on your phone. Using a white background with black letters can decrease eye strain. Do remember to increase the font size as that can help decrease strain on eyes.” Here are some tips to help keep your eyes health.

Dr Keiki Mehta is considered the father of cataract and is India’s leading Ophthalmic surgeon and director of Mehta International eye institute and Colaba eye hospital.

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