Smartphones may be taxing your eyes

2017-08-23 06:00

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THE combination of small fonts, phones held close to browse the Web, and text, can cause eyestrain and headaches, a study finds.

“The fact that people are holding the devices at close distances means their eyes have to work that much harder to focus on the print and keep their eyes pointed in right the direction,” said study co-author Dr Mark Rosenfield, a professor at the Suny State College of Optometry in New York City.

“The fact that the eyes have to work harder means that people may get symptoms such as headaches and eye strain.”

Texting and browsing the Web on smartphones can also result in dry eye, discomfort and blurred vision after prolonged use, the study authors point out. Previous studies have also found that up to 90% of people who use computers experience eye problems.

Given that more and more adults and children are using smartphones to write and receive messages or look up restaurant reviews, it made sense to measure exactly how close people were holding their phones.

The experiments were relatively simple ones. In the first, about 130 volunteers with an average age of 23.2 years were asked to hold their smartphone while reading an actual text message.

In a different experiment, 100 participants, whose average age was 24.9, were next asked to hold their smartphone when reading a Web page.

The researchers then measured the distance between the device and the eyes, as well as the font size.

When reading printed text in newspapers, books and magazines, the average working distance is close to 16 inches from the eyes, but the study volunteers writing or sending text messages held their phones, on average, only about 14 inches away. In some people, it was as close as seven inches, Rosenfield said.

When viewing a Web page, the average working distance was 12.6 inches.

The font on text messages tended to be slightly larger, about 10%, on average than newspaper print, but Web-page font was only 80% of the size of newspaper print and, in some cases, as small as 30%, Rosenfield said.

- Health24

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