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Should we be worried about the so-called smartphone blindness?

Should we be worried about the so-called smartphone blindness?

Not many people may realize this, but lifestyle or profession can have an impact on one’s eyes. A number of welding workers are known to suffer from arc eye, while those who are exposed to snow and ice regularly are prone to getting snowblind. Even folks who are overstudious tend to have myopia. Now, there is increasing discussion about whether or not today’s mobile users, especially those who own touch screen devices, are starting to suffer from blurred vision, or worse, smartphone blindness.

As noted by The New England Journal of Medicine, there were a couple of reported cases involving smartphone blindness, and the two people affected had been reading their handsets while lying in bed on their sides, with their faces half hidden in the dark. Fortunately for these two patients (and this goes for all of us, too), there has never been any documented case of permanent smartphone blindness.

Blurred vision due to too much mobile device use is not actually that new. Many consider its precursor to be computer vision syndrome. But despite gaining the attention of academics and the medical world, its cause has never fully explained by science, at least as satisfactorily as other eyesight afflictions like welder’s arc eye (caused by too much exposure to bright ultra violet light), or snowblindness (caused by ice reflected light sunburning the cornea). 

Still, the concern for screen induced blurred vision, smartphone blindness, or computer vision syndrome has grown big enough to warrant proposed treatments. The American Optometric Association actually has a simple solution -- the aptly called 20-20-20 rule. This treatment involves taking a 20 second breather and then make a point to stare at something else 20 feet away, at every 20 minute interval.

Conventional thinking states that a thing that is done too much is never a good thing. We know this out of common sense, but because smartphones have become our most personal (and even indispensable) consumer gadgets, it is getting harder and harder to train our eyes at something farther than our arm’s reach. In other words, our eyes can not process depth that effectively anymore because we are so used to staring at a screen just a feet away from our faces. And with that eye concentration sustained for most of the duration of any given day, it should not be surprising why our eyesight gets blurred or even blacks out for a moment or two. But now that we have some idea of what smartphone blindness is, the hope is that we should be able to see our way out of it.