Do Smartphone Screens Damage Your Eyes?

Hillary Lee, Lifestyles Editor

      Have you ever tried taking a break from doing homework on the computer and ended up scrolling on your phone? Let’s be honest; these days, addiction to technology is inevitable. Especially during the pandemic, 81% of Americans used video conferencing such as zoom. Because people were all at home, people have become accustomed to the internet even after the pandemic resided. With all this in mind, many wonder if using technology would result in long-term harm to peoples’ eyes as technology will continue to grow in relevance in the future. 

      When I look away from staring at either my phone or computer, my vision seems blurred; instinctively, I rub my eyes and rapidly blink to get rid of this sensation. Eye strain, an experience we all have had in the past, is a common feeling of discomfort caused by prolonged use of viewing something close by. Especially if you read on your smartphone, scroll through Twitter, or subconsciously skim the captions to a video, this would put excessive strain on your eyes. According to WebMD, viewing small screens “force[s] your eyes to work harder than usual as they strain to focus on tiny words,” says health expert Rick Ansorge, backed up by optometrist Whitney Seltman. Additionally, the article suggests how looking at a screen causes us to blink less often, usually leading to dry eyes and eye fatigue. Despite this, most of us continue to make use of technology– dealing with the repercussions; however, there are ways to help limit and prevent further discomfort. 

     The 20-20-20 rule is an easy yet effective way for people to control the amount of time dedicated to their devices. It works like this: for every 20 minutes you spend looking at a screen, look away for 20 seconds at something that is 20 feet away. “Taking frequent breaks to look at faraway objects during screen time significantly lessened their eye strain symptoms. In other words, the 20-20-20 rule works,” states health writer Ashley Marcin, backed up by Timothy J. Legg, Ph.D., PsyD. When looking at a computer screen, try placing it at least 20 inches away from your eyes, around arms length. There are also computer glasses that help reduce eye strain. They have multifocal lenses that have a focus correction made especially for computer screens, which are often placed 20 to 26 inches away from the face. Students can easily alter their focus between computer screens, papers, and classroom whiteboards with the aid of these glasses, which also reduce eye strain. The American Academy of Ophthalmology also points out that this is separate from blue light filtering glasses. 

     A common misconception is how the blue light that transmits through devices damages the eyes, focusing on the retina. An article published by Harvard Medical School notes that “The amount of blue light from electronic devices, including smartphones, tablets, LCD TVs, and laptop computers, is not harmful to the retina or any other part of the eye,” 

     After viewing sufficient evidence and statistics, I can conclude that overusing technology does indirectly damage our eyes in the long term due to prolonged close-up activities causing constant eye strain, not the blue light being admitted.