Staring at the tiny screen of a smartphone for long hours can cause eye fatigue at best and irreversible eye damage at worst. While you can hardly imagine your life without your smartphone, you just have to find ways to protect your eyes when using it. Since there are some effective ways to minimize the risk to your eyes from a smartphone, there’s no reason not to try them.
1. Get an Anti-Glare Screen Protector
Most mid- and high-end smartphones do come with an anti-glare screen by default, but if yours doesn’t, go get one immediately. Anti-glare screens are not expensive, but they make a drastic difference because they reduce the amount of blue light that gets to your eyes.
2. Blink Frequently/Splash Your Eyes with Water
Blinking frequently is recommended when using a desktop, but for smartphones it’s even more important. Staring at a screen dries your eyes and the natural way to moisten them is by blinking. This reduces the negative effects of screen radiation.
Additionally, if you splash your eyes with water (just any ordinary water, nothing fancy here), this also helps to moisten them.
3. Follow the 20/20/20 Rule
Human eyes aren’t created for prolonged staring at short distances. Rather, a human eye adapts when alternating between a long distance for a few seconds or minutes and a short distance. This is why watching something at a close distance for hours, even if it is just reading a book, forces your eyes to behave unnaturally.
With smartphones, there is the so-called 20/20/20 rule. It means that every 20 minutes you need to look at something at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
Even better, after every 40 or 50 minutes with your device, take a 10- or 15-minute break away from any screen. You could even take a quick exercise or meditation break – this will help not only your eyes but your overall health.
4. Adjust the Brightness, Contrast, and Text Size
Brightness, contrast, and text size are the three aspects of a smartphone that affect eyesight the most. Brightness and contrast that is too high or too low are both harmful to the eyes. You can adjust these in the settings of your device. The exact steps vary based on your device and manufacturer. They have apps for this for Android, iPhone, and probably any of the other less popular platforms.
It will also help if you avoid prolonged smartphone use in dim environments. Never stare at the screen in the dark.
As for text size, don’t keep it too small because it strains the eyes and decreases the viewing distance. Generally, larger text is better, though scrolling time to see everything on a page is increased, and this is certainly irritating.
5. Keep Your Screen Clean
With your fingers constantly on the screen, by no surprise, there are many dirty marks on it. This dirt is not only unsanitary but also adds additional strain on your eyes. Just take a soft cloth and clean your screen regularly. You don’t need any water. A simple micro-fiber cloth will do.
6. Keep the Right Distance
Another common reason why your eyes hate your smartphone is that you place it too close. Although I am not a frequent smartphone user (because I find this device too large to carry just for the idea and too small to use for browsing or reading), when I do use mine, I do tend to place it quite close to my eyes.
I know this is wrong, but when I can’t see it properly from the recommended distance of 16 to 18 inches away, I am fooling myself that just a minute or two won’t cause much damage. Whenever possible, try to keep your device 16 to 18 inches away, as this is considered the optimal distance.
7. Use Blue Light Filters or Night Mode
Blue light filters help reduce how the light from your screen affects not only your eyes but your overall health. These can help protect your eyes when using a smartphone and improve your sleep if you’re using your phone right before bed.
While these filters aren’t quite as effective as anti-glare screens, they’re a good alternative and a great addition to anti-glare screens. For iPhones and iPads running iOS 9.3 and higher, it’s best to use Night Shift, which is built in. However, you can also browse the App Store for other options.
If your eyes are a known weakness in your body, these tips may not be enough to protect them completely, but without them it’s worse. In any case, it won’t hurt if you follow them – they don’t demand that much time and effort, but the results are rewarding.