How to Protect Your Eyes When Using Your Smartphone

13th Feb 2019

When we think of protection regarding smartphone devices, our attention usually focusses on the safety of our phones over the wellbeing of one of our most important features – our eyes.

Close-up of an eye.

When we stare at tiny screens for long periods, the process can cause eye fatigue or even damage if we are not careful. The results of excessive screen use tend to be referred to as ‘screen eyes’.

What is Screen Eyes?

‘Screen eyes’ refers to the dry feeling of the eyes brought on by looking at screens for extended periods. The cause of this uncomfortable sensation is the fact that when we stare at our screens, we actually blink up to 60% less than we would otherwise. From blinking less, we reduce the distribution of tears across the eyeball, and this irritates the protective layers of the eye through the moisture evaporating. As you increase your screen time, the sorer the eyes become.

Is the Public Obsessed with Their Phones?

According to a survey by Optrex, 57% of British adults believe they spend too much time looking at their screens, while 58% of the nation say they are worried about the impact this is having on their eye health.

Our obsession with our phone screens is not only irritating us but the people around us, with 46% of people saying they have stopped listening to a partner, friend or family member if they start to look at their phone!

With screen addiction a problem for much of the nation, it seems that many of us may be seriously neglecting our eye care. Of course, there is a vast majority of individuals who couldn’t live without their smartphones, and perhaps a fair few of us who rely on our devices for work, but don’t sacrifice your eyes for the sake of using your devices, there are plenty of ways you can reduce the impact of the screens on your beloved attributes. Here are just a few suggestions on how to protect your eyes when using your smartphone:

Regular Blinking or Splash Your Eyes

Okay- we realise how silly this one may sound but blinking frequently has been recommended time and time again when it comes to excessive screen use. It all comes down with the natural process of keeping the eyes moist as we explained earlier. Encouraging your eyes to blink more will help to limit the damage to the protective layer of your eyes, while also allowing for the screen experience to be more comfortable.

If you find your eyes are still irritated, try splashing your eyes with water or utilising over-the-counter eye solutions to add some moisture to your drying, screen eyes.

The 20/20/20 Rule

Our eyes have not evolved for the new technological age we find ourselves in; they simply cannot handle staring at things at a short distance for very long! Your eyes, however, can adapt between short and long distances quite naturally.

Considering this fact, people came up with the 20/20/20 rule to help our eyes out! Essentially, 20/20/20 means that every twenty minutes you look up from your smartphone to look at something that is at least twenty feet away for twenty seconds. If you’re finding this helps, you may even want to partake in taking ten or fifteen-minute breaks from the screen every forty to fifty minutes.

Stay at the Right Distance

Another reason for screen eyes is our habit of holding our phones too close to our faces. Perhaps we’re trying to keep our messages secret from nosey onlookers or its more comfortable to hold it this way, whatever the reason, you may want to reconsider it.

The suggested distance is sixteen to eighteen inches away from your eyes. Once you get into the habit of holding your phone further away, it will start to feel more natural.

Person using their phone at distance.

Adjusting Your Screen Preferences

Three elements of a screen experience are causing issues for your eyes: brightness, contrast and text size. Brightness and contract that is either too high or too low can be harmful to your eyes. Most people will adjust these features instinctively; however, if you find you need a little help finding the right balance, you may want to download an app that automatically adjusts your screen for you.

However, it’s not just your screen that can be the culprit. Using your smartphone in dimly-lit areas can also cause problems, so its recommended to not stare at your screens in the dark.

Concerning text size, logic dictates not to keep your text size on the small side as this encourages your eyes to strain or bring your phone closer to your eyes in order to read the messages. Therefore, you will want to opt for larger text; however, you should bear in mind that this will increase scrolling time which can end up being annoying for the impatient among us.

Clean Screens

There are a few sinners out there who walk around with dirty screens, fingerprints, dirt and dust staining the screen. It’s understandable why our screens build up this type of mess considering their touch format. Not only is this type of display unsanitary but it’s also one of the reasons why your eyes are hurting!

The best way to resolve this is to carry a soft cloth with you so that you can clean the screen when necessary.

Anti-Glare Screen Protector

Of course, one of the best ways to protect your eyes from the damage a screen can cause is by using a screen protector designed to reduce the glare from a screen (aptly named anti-glare screen protectors). This inexpensive method can make a big difference to the impact on your eyes by reducing the amount of blue light that reaches your vision and makes your eyes strain.

Don’t let your eyes down by failing to protect them from your screens. While these simple suggestions are not 100% guaranteed to stop eye problems, they will certainly help to reduce the damage your phones could be causing right now. Why not have a go and let us know how you get on?