Eye surgeon blames smartphones for increase in short sightedness

By on August 16, 2013, 5:00 PM
smartphone, eyesight, short sightedness, advancing myopia, myopia

If you’ve been experiencing worsening eye problems over the last several years, you aren’t alone. An eye surgeon in the U.K. has noticed a 35 percent increase in the number of patients diagnosed with advancing myopia (short sightedness) which he believes is being cause by smartphones.

David Allamby, founder of Focus Clinics, says the increase dates back to the launch of smartphones in 1997 and unfortunately, it’s a problem that’s just now taking root. He believes the issue, dubbed screen sightedness, could increase in frequency by 50 percent over the next 10 years and half of 30-year-olds could suffer from it by 2033.

Increased smartphone usage along with time spent watching television and using computers is putting children and young people at risk of permanently damaging their vision. One of the main reasons for concern relates to a recent study which found that the average smartphone user holds their device 30cm from their face while some use it as close as 18cm. Newspapers and books, on the other hand, are typically kept at least 40cm from the eyes.

Allamby said people need to ensure they limit screen time whenever possible by going outside without using their phone for a portion of the day. That’s because sunlight has been shown to reduce the progression of short sightedness.

What’s more, parents should strongly consider the age at which they give their children a smartphone. He noted that children as young as seven are being given handsets which puts them at increased risk of myopia.

Do you have any children and if so, have you given them a smartphone yet? If so, at what age?




User Comments: 19

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JC713 JC713 said:

This doesnt surprise me.

Guest said:

Solution: buy a phablet like the Galaxy Note, with the bigger screen you can hold it further away. :p

4 people like this | Guest said:

Biggest load of crap I have ever heard.....you look in the mirror every god dam day, you eat food close up every god dam day, every man eats pussy every god dam day, we must be short sighted >(0)<

1 person liked this | cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I agree with the guest above, looking at the phone is no different than looking at anything else you are holding. People have been reading and studying things up close since the beginning of our existence. Besides don't blame the phone, if you can't be bothered with putting the damn thing down from time to time.

hellokitty[hk] hellokitty[hk], I'm a TechSpot Evangelist, said:

Regardless smartphone use is egregious and I don't really like it, most especially when people can't multitask enough to hold a conversation at the same time but insist on continuing to use it.

Basher said:

My optometrist was telling me that he is seeing less near-sightedness and more astigmatism as time passes. He hadn't done any in depth examinations as to why, but that was the trend that he noticed.

Guest said:

Geez.. yes, people have been looking at things closely since forever, but in most cases smartphone and computer use are not replacing the time invested in said things; they ADD UP to the overall time spent looking closely at things (and without blinking as frequently I might add)

wastedkill said:

Im glad my computer screen is further away than my arm can reach which must mean that its longer than 40cm so my eye sight must be getting improved right genius surgeon?

PinothyJ said:

That guy's facts seem to be all over the place. For example:

[link]

This video is from brain scientist, Daphne Bavelier, on her talk about video games. From the transcript:

"One first saying that I'm sure you all have heard is the fact that too much screen time makes your eyesight worse. That's a statement about vision. There may be vision scientists among you. We actually know how to test that statement. We can step into the lab and measure how good your vision is. Well, guess what? People that don't play a lot of action games, that don't actually spend a lot of time in front of screens, have normal, or what we call corrective-to-normal vision. That's okay. The issue is what happens with these guys that actually indulge into playing video games like five hours per week, 10 hours per week, 15 hours per week. By that statement, their vision should be really bad, right? Guess what? Their vision is really, really good. It's better than those that don't play. And it's better in two different ways. The first way is that they're actually able to resolve small detail in the context of clutter, and though that means being able to read the fine print on a prescription rather than using magnifier glasses, you can actually do it with just your eyesight. The other way that they are better is actually being able to resolve different levels of gray. Imagine you're driving in a fog. That makes a difference between seeing the car in front of you and avoiding the accident, or getting into an accident. So we're actually leveraging that work to develop games for patients with low vision, and to have an impact on retraining their brain to see better. Clearly, when it comes to action video games, screen time doesn't make your eyesight worse."

The figures show SOMETHING bad is happening to eyesight, but this joker who is supposed to be a professional appears to have seen one study and based an entire judgement on that. That is not how science works...

Nobina Nobina said:

That guy's facts seem to be all over the place. For example:

[link]

This video is from brain scientist, Daphne Bavelier, on her talk about video games. From the transcript:

"One first saying that I'm sure you all have heard is the fact that too much screen time makes your eyesight worse. That's a statement about vision. There may be vision scientists among you. We actually know how to test that statement. We can step into the lab and measure how good your vision is. Well, guess what? People that don't play a lot of action games, that don't actually spend a lot of time in front of screens, have normal, or what we call corrective-to-normal vision. That's okay. The issue is what happens with these guys that actually indulge into playing video games like five hours per week, 10 hours per week, 15 hours per week. By that statement, their vision should be really bad, right? Guess what? Their vision is really, really good. It's better than those that don't play. And it's better in two different ways. The first way is that they're actually able to resolve small detail in the context of clutter, and though that means being able to read the fine print on a prescription rather than using magnifier glasses, you can actually do it with just your eyesight. The other way that they are better is actually being able to resolve different levels of gray. Imagine you're driving in a fog. That makes a difference between seeing the car in front of you and avoiding the accident, or getting into an accident. So we're actually leveraging that work to develop games for patients with low vision, and to have an impact on retraining their brain to see better. Clearly, when it comes to action video games, screen time doesn't make your eyesight worse."

The figures show SOMETHING bad is happening to eyesight, but this joker who is supposed to be a professional appears to have seen one study and based an entire judgement on that. That is not how science works...

But the eye surgeon doesn't blame action games or computers, he blames smartphones, it's different. Looking at a smartphone doesn't require good eyesight that is required in action games cause the screen doesn't move much and you don't have to strain your eyes and look everywhere. In action games, you have to look everywhere for enemies and their movement and blahblahblah, <- That trains your eyesight, looking at a smartphone doesn't. It's kind of a big difference.

Nobina Nobina said:

Solution: buy a phablet like the Galaxy Note, with the bigger screen you can hold it further away. :p

Cause everyone has the money for the Galaxy Note and everyone wants to carry a huge phone everywhere he/she goes.

TorturedChaos, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I have had my suspicion for years that working on computers and such leads to nearsightedness. Your eyes get used to focusing at a certain distance, and the muscle then have a hard time focusing at a farther distance.

Or look at middle age outdoors man and hunters. A large chunk of them seem to need reading glasses. Why? They get used to focusing at a long distance and have a hard time focusing up close.

I don't really have any hard evidence for an actually coloration, just my observations.

TheBigFatClown said:

I agree with the guest above, looking at the phone is no different than looking at anything else you are holding. People have been reading and studying things up close since the beginning of our existence. Besides don't blame the phone, if you can't be bothered with putting the damn thing down from time to time.

True. This is why you always see nerds wearing glasses and never see jocks wearing glasses. Nerds(like me) are sitting in their room all day reading books while the jocks are out chasing girls and playing football.

I guess it's not the worst thing in the world to have to wear glasses in exchange for having a brain that is starting to bulge outside of my skull.

1 person liked this | NoorAdin said:

In my opinion and my experience ;) it is usually related to the screen brightness and contrast in dark places. it doesn't matter that much which device we use. so make sure to have brightness similar to your room light :)

However I agree that short and far distance has some impact but not much.

adamrussell adamrussell said:

As we get older most people get far-sighted - thus needing reading glasses. So could use of smart phones alleviate this?

treetops treetops said:

My optometrist said computers dont hurt your eyesight at all. they just make your eyes tired and strain the muscles, muscle strain does not give you bad vision, I believe bad vision is in the lens

but who knows

1 person liked this | Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

My optometrist said computers dont hurt your eyesight at all. they just make your eyes tired and strain the muscles, muscle strain does not give you bad vision, I believe bad vision is in the lens

but who knows

My optometrist says the same thing but I believe his invoice does more damage to my eyes, and bank balance than any screen could...

RenGood08 RenGood08 said:

....A 7 year old...with a smartphone? That is just weird. If I went somewhere with my friends, my parents gave me a walkie talkie at age 7. Not a cellphone. I didn't get one til I was like 13 or 14.

Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

....A 7 year old...with a smartphone? That is just weird. If I went somewhere with my friends, my parents gave me a walkie talkie at age 7. Not a cellphone. I didn't get one til I was like 13 or 14.

When I went somewhere with my friends I was given some money to make a call from a public call box if necessary and I never got my 1st cellphone until I was about 38. They didn't exist until then.

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