A recent study has shown that myopia in young people has increased by 35 percent since 1997, and it’s increasing at a frighteningly rapid rate. Many ophthalmologists and other researchers are crediting this phenomenon with how often we stare at the screens on our phones. Whether we’re texting, checking Facebook, sending emails, or taking selfies, we can’t seem to tear our eyes away from these little screens. In fact, because the problem has become so widespread, it now has its own term: “screen-sightedness.”
FOCUSING ON A TINY SCREEN
According to one expert, cases of people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s developing myopia are on the rise, as well. This is significant, as the gene that controls nearsightedness has historically been believed to be stable by age 21. At that point, if you are not myopic, you shouldn’t expect to become so in the next few decades. However, that seems to be changing with the amount of time we’re now spending on our phones.
THE DANGERS OF BLUE-VIOLET LIGHT
Some credit this change with the size of the screens and how close we hold them to our faces when texting, surfing, or playing games. However, other studies have shown that the light emitted from the phone may be the true culprit.
Much like your television and computer, your phone comes with a warning against vision damage due to overuse. That’s because the light illuminating your screen is in the blue-violet spectrum. This spectrum is known to be harsher on the eye, and some experts have even called it toxic to vision. Overexposure to light in this spectrum is also associated with macular degeneration, which can lead to blindness.
EYE FATIGUE AND HEADACHES
Even if your phone does not create enough of a source of blue-violet light to cause vision problems, you may have noticed an increase in tension headaches and eye fatigue when you use your phone for long periods of time without looking away.
In an article for the BBC on the subject, one teen admitted that she’s never without her phone, but that she’s already noticed her vision worsening along with frequent headaches.
Because a reported 55 percent of teens feel anxious and irritated when they don’t have access to their phones, this news is very concerning for the younger generation. Are we raising a generation to lose their vision by their 30s or 40s?
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Whether or not you’ve noticed your visual acuity getting worse, making regular appointments with your eye doctor are essential to healthy eyes and good vision. If you haven’t had an eye exam in the last two years, schedule one immediately and talk to your eye doctor about how you can fight the ill effects that constant connectivity has on your eyes.