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Your iPhone Use May Be Posing More Of A Risk To Your Eyes Than You Realise

Short-sightedness is on the rise.
This is all of us.
This is all of us.

Whilst we all love a good Insta scroll before bed, tired or dry eyes the following day can be an unwelcomed outcome.

And the damage this is posing to your eye health may be a greater risk than you realise.

Heavy device use is a new phenomena that wasn't around ten years ago. And it is certainly having an impact.

Sydney optometrist Simon Allen is seeing an increasing number of patients presenting with symptoms of eye strain, fatigue and short-sightedness -- and they are getting younger and younger.

"Heavy device use is a new phenomena that wasn't around ten years ago. And it is certainly having an impact," Allen told The Huffington Post Australia.

"What we are seeing now is that concentrated numbers of hours are spent in intensive screen time, with even longer work days causing noticeable symptoms and productivity losses among device users."

Allen is among 103 Australian optometrists who were surveyed by Eyezen about the number of patients presenting with eye conditions linked to digital device use.

The study revealed nine in 10 patients reported eye strain, while 78 percent had dry eyes and 72 percent experienced headaches.

Eighty percent of surveyed optometrists believed the patients most affected were between 20 and 40 years of age, whilst one in 10 said school children under the age of 12 were at most risk.

Kids are becoming myopic at an earlier age.
Kids are becoming myopic at an earlier age.

For Allen, the main concern is a rise in myopia or short sightedness due to 'near work' device use putting an increased load on the visual system.

"Because we hold our phones much closer to our faces, there's an accomodative load on the eye or an increased amount of effort needed to focus on things up close," Allen said.

And this is being brought to the forefront at an earlier age.

"Myopia historically started appearing at around 12 to 13 years of age, but a recent Canadian study has found that it can now start as early as 7 years old, and can increase from six to 29 percent by the age of 13," Allen said.

And whilst the jury is out about the long-term effect of blue light, Allen said it can be problematic.

"Blue light -- which is emitted by most devices -- occurs on the light spectrum next to harmful invisible ultraviolet light and reduces screen contrast which only exacerbates the symptoms."

So, what can we do about it?

  • Get your eyes tested to rule out any underlying issues.
  • Take breaks by following the '20,20,20' rule: "Every 20 minutes, take a 20 second break and cast your eyes at something 20 feet away," Allen said. "20 metres also works -- the further away the better."
  • Spend at least one hour each day outdoors (this is particularly important for kids).
  • Ensure your phone is a safe distance away from your eyes -- particularly if you're using it in bed...
  • Avoid phone use before before bed. "Leave your phone out of your bedroom, or at best, give yourself a half hour gap before you go to sleep," Allen said.

Still interested? Here's more evidence on kids, mobile phones and sleep.

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