Eyestrain? Blame the time spent on your smartphone

COVID-19 has radically shifted the way time is spent online as we connect with friends and family. But spending all this time on our digital devices can impact our eye health.
Written by Eileen Brown, Contributor

Many of us are now aware of the time we spend on devices. After the working day is finished, we switch to our second screen mobile or tablets to socialize with our friends. But a new study shows that it is actually our smartphone that is having the most impact on our health.

A recent study by London, England online contact lens supplier Lenstore has revealed which countries across the world spend the most time looking at their screens. It studied 40 countries to identify the most popular digital devices and average screen time in each region.

There are 5.2 billion people using mobile phones globally and 4.54 billion users of the internet worldwide. The typical user spends 40% of their waking life using the internet and around 6 hours and 43 minutes per day on the internet each day. The research showed that, with over 14 hours per day spent looking at screens, the Philippines tops the list of countries most at risk from digital devices.

Brazil, Thailand, and South Africa are also most likely to have poor eye health as a result of the amount of time every day they spend looking at their digital devices. The devices which impact our eye health the most are smartphones. On average, 94% of people across the 40 countries studied own a smartphone and are spending an average of 3.22 hours per day on the device.

Eyestrain blame the time spent on your smartphone for that zdnet

However, across the top 10 countries in the study, the daily average screen time is 4.31 hours per day. Time spent on laptops or desktop computers is 4.1 hours per day and these countries watch TV for 3.15 hours per day.

Surprisingly, time spent on gaming consoles takes up only 0.94 hours of the day for these countries.

Mobile devices accounted for more than half the time we spent online in 2020, but most internet users still use a combination of mobiles and computers to access the internet and this accounts for nearly half of all screen time.

People reported visual symptoms during office work, specifically computer use. Tired and dry eyes, discomfort, and strain can all happen if you stare at the screen for too long. Headaches, difficulty in refocusing, and blurred vision are associated with ocular surface disease.

So, how can you minimize eyestrain? When you are using a computer there are a number of steps you can take:

  • Locate the computer between 40 and 76cms (16 to 30in) from your eyes.
  • Ensure the top of the computer is level with, or slightly below, your eyes.
  • Make sure the screen is tilted away from you at a 10-to-20-degree angle.
  • Check that there are no distracting reflections on the screen from a window.
  • Adjust the font size on your screen so it's easy to read.
  • Use document holders for reading or reference materials. Place them close to the screen at the same distance from your eyes. This will enable your eyes to remain focused as they move between the screen and the documents.
  • Use a character size that is easy to see. The character size is an important factor since it determines the distance at which you view the monitor.

Whether your gaming device, TV, phones, or smart tablets, it is important to stay conscious of the time spent on devices.

Although being connected to friends and family online is crucial to our mental health right now, it is important to look after your eyes and avoid eyestrain and future damage to your eyes.

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