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Effect of Smartphones on Vision and Health of Service Members

As much as we depend on our mobile devices for viewing and responding to emails, checking the weather, reading headline news and posting status updates on Facebook, our smartphones may be causing vision problems. Staring at those tiny screens can bring on an array of eye issues, such as blurred vision, headaches, sore eyes, headaches, muscle strain and dry eye.

“When you are using smartphones, both the screens and what we are trying to see are typically very small, and this taxes any individual’s ability to focus on and resolve the content being viewed,” said Felix Barker, O.D., an optometrist with the Department of Veterans Affairs who works with the DoD/VA Vision Center of Excellence. “For example, if you’re looking at the same print on a computer screen, not only is the screen larger but so is the print, making a computer monitor much easier to see than a smartphone.”

Barker also said smartphones require holding the device closer to the eyes, increasing the demands on vision. “The closer a person holds something to the face, the more the eyes try to converge, meaning that they turn closer together,” he said. “When you spend an excessive amount of time on smartphones, you can put a lot of stress on your vision and cause blurred or even double vision.”