Ocular Conditions

Surfing the web on your smartphone? Recent study shows 2 causes of increased eye strain.

Chances are good that many of us have smartphones.   And, if you’re like me, you’ll find yourself using these modern marvels of technology to surf the web for various information.   But an interesting study, published in July’s “Optometry and Visual Science,”  reviewed the visual demands created by viewing websites on your phone and found two surprising conditions that set the stage for eye strain.

First, the study found the average font size of a website viewed on a smartphone was about 30% smaller than newspaper print, but could range as small as 70% smaller than the type in your local newspaper!

The second finding was that patients held their smartphones much closer than the recommended reading distance of 16 inches.   On average, the smartphone reading distance was found to be about 12 inches, with many patients viewing their smartphones as close as 8 inches away from their eyes.

Unfortunately, both of these conditions create a much higher focusing demand on the visual system and very commonly can create headaches, blurry or fluctuating vision, and significant eye strain.

Of course, this doesn’t mean it’s time to throw away your iPhone or Android device.   Instead, here’s a tip for reducing these eye-strain conditions:   use the pinch-zoom function on your smartphone to magnify the website print.   If you can, try to magnify the font size enough to allow you to read your smartphone comfortably at a viewing distance of about 16 inches.    Also,  try to do heavy web surfing on a larger screen, such as a tablet or home-computer and be sure to give your eyes frequent breaks no matter what size screen you use.

Hope this helps, and be sure to check out our previous posts about Computer Vision Syndrome.   And, as always, we’d love to hear your comments or questions over on our Facebook fan page.

Take care,

Dr. Beach