When I was little, my mother warned me about sitting too close to the TV screen while playing video games. “It’ll ruin your eyesight,” she claimed. My grandmother would often say the same thing.
I always thought their warnings were superstition – my vision is still near 20/20 despite my years of playing Legend of Zelda. But Dr. David Allamby, an ophthalmic surgeon and founder of Focus Clinics, recently talked to the Daily Mail and BBC about a growing epidemic of short-sightedness (myopia) caused by our smartphones.
According to Allamby, there has been a 35% increase in advancing myopia since smartphones were first introduced in 1997. Television screens and computer monitors play a part in this eye trouble too, but Allamby worries that our newfound use of hand-held devices could increase cases of myopia in children by another 50% in ten years. The growing problem has been termed “screen-sightedness.”
At issue is the fact that we look at phones much more closely than we do printed material and computer monitors. We’re also using our smartphones more and more often – a Simmons Connect report estimates the average adult spends an hour per day using their smartphone. Phone calls only make up a quarter of that time – the rest of the time, we're staring at the screen.
Short of giving up your smartphone and becoming a technological hermit, there are a few things you can do to help relieve the strain of staring at a smartphone screen. Says Allamby: “People need to ensure they limit screen time wherever possible even by going outside without their phone for a period of time each day and also seriously consider the age at which they give their children a smartphone.”
Or, in terms my grandmother’s would understand: “Why don’t you shut that thing off? It’s a beautiful day outside!"