National Eye Health Week: Eyecare tips for smartphone users

·2-min read

The vast majority of us are guilty of looking at screens far too much.

But if your eyes begin to feel like they are dry, burning or irritated, you may be suffering from eye strain. To mark National Eye Health Week, which runs from 19-25 September, Tina Patel, an optician at Feel Good Contacts, has offered some top tips for keeping your eyes healthy when you are in front of devices all day.

Blink more

Staring at a smartphone screen for long periods of time can cause your eyes to become dry and sore. This leads to discomfort and if not tended to, could produce severe problems further down the line.

"Every time you blink, your eyes are replenished with moisture which they need throughout the day to function at their best. To avoid dry eyes, remember to blink regularly when using your smartphone, no matter how interesting the task is," she advised. "If your eyes do become dry, it may be worth having some eye drops to hand, as these help to add moisture."

Use bigger fonts

Eye strain from smartphone use can occur as a result of squinting the eyes to read tiny fonts. Smartphone screens are much smaller than regular laptop or PC screens, which means reading long pieces of text on them can be trickier.

"Increasing the size of the font on your smartphone will make reading from your phone easier," noted Tina. "This can be done in the Settings tab, with many phones providing the option for large fonts that are tailored to those with poor vision."

Keep the screen at eye level

Holding your smartphone at eye level or just below will feel more natural for your eyes.

"This technique will make it less likely that you'll experience eye strain," the expert said. "A smartphone should be held at a distance of about 35cm away from the eyes in adults. That's usually arm's length away with a slight bend in the elbow. The distance gradually increases as we approach our early 40s and most people will require reading spectacles from around the age of 45."

Take regular breaks

Just like with all digital screens, taking regular breaks is important to keep your eyes happy.

"Abide by the 20-20-20 rule - every 20 minutes look 20 feet into the distance for at least 20 seconds," she shared.

Go for eye tests

Whether you use a smartphone regularly or not, it is important to go for regular eye tests. Every two years is a good guide.

"The optician will check your eye health and advise if you need prescription glasses," explained Tina. "Please note that you may need to visit an optician more regularly if you have poor vision, a medical condition such as diabetes or if directed to by your optician."