Overuse of smartphones and tablets may exacerbate myopia

By News Desk in Taipei/The China Post | Asia News Network – Wed, Jul 6, 2011

Taipei (The China Post/ANN) – Since the advent of tablet computers and smartphones, local opthalmologists have noticed that public vision has rapidly declined from overuse, with certain patients increasing their myopia by -2.00 diopters in one year.

Doctors stressed that eyes glued to a screen will increase concentration while decreasing the number of natural blinks per minute, which can exacerbate vision flare.

An example is a 34-year-old year old woman surnamed Chen who, the minute she opens her eyes, starts scrolling through her days schedule on her smart phone. During the commute to work, Chen would read the news and check her e-mail on her tablet computer; time after work would be spent logging onto Facebook. After one year of the described behavior, Chens ophthalmologist discovered that her nearsightedness had exacerbated from -6.00 to -8.00 diopters.

For the myopic, a decline of -1.00 per year is already considered severe, especially after the age of 18, explained Lin Pei-rong, a director of ophthalmology at a university hospital.

Lin observed that many people, whether engaged in business or leisure, do not part from their technological gadgets; even those sitting in his waiting room are caught overusing their eyesight whilst transfixed by their smartphones.

Further, the ubiquity of the seemingly indispensable gadgets most likely contributes to the 35 percent increase in patients who complain of eye strain and fatigue.

The small screen-size and font of the smartphones also contributes to vision damage in the long-run; Lin warned the public not to read from the screens during a commute, which could increase eye strain and reduce blinks per minute.

Further, tablet computers often have an exceptionally bright display, which can dry out the eyes. Lin advised the public to give their eyes a rest after 20 minutes. As a precautionary test, glance at an object over six meters away; if any eyesore, blurriness or increased pressure results, please visit a doctor, he said.