How Texting Could Be Harming Your Health

By , Category : Eye Health

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Here’s a health e-letter with some timely health news for all you smartphone users out there: do you regularly read text messages or browse the Internet on your cell phone? If so, you likely hold your cell phone closer to your eyes than you would a newspaper or book. And this, according to researchers at the SUNY State College of Optometry in New York City, could cause blurred vision, eyestrain, and headaches.

The New York researchers got the idea for a study after watching commuters on the train into the big city holding their cell phones very close to their eyes while texting or browsing. The research team decided to perform some experiments to see if there were any side effects to doing all this reading close up.

The first experiment included about 130 volunteers with an average age of 23 years. The volunteers were asked to hold their smartphone while reading an actual text message. In a second experiment, 100 participants, whose average age was around 25, were asked to hold their smartphone when reading a web page. The researchers then measured the distance between the device and the eyes as well as the font size.

The researchers discovered that when the volunteers read printed text in newspapers, books and magazines, the average working distance was close to 16 inches from the eyes. This changed however, when the volunteers wrote and sent text messages: in this case the reading distance was only about 12 inches away. And for some people, this reading distance shortened to as close as seven inches.

The research team also found that the font on web pages was only 80% the size of newspaper print and, in some cases, as small as 30%.

So — according to the study — if you’re holding your cell phone at a close distance to your head, it means that your eyes have to work that much harder to focus on the print and to have your eyes pointed in the right direction. And that extra strain can cause headaches, blurry vision, and fatigue.

Here’s some health advice on how to give your eyes a break while texting or browsing on your cell:

–Increase the font size on your phone or hand-held device

–If you already wear glasses, consider getting your vision tested at closer distances in case you need a prescription for glasses intended for use at these closer ranges.

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Dr. Victor Marchione, MD

About the Author, Browse Victor's Articles

Victor Marchione, MD received his Bachelor of Science Degree in 1973 and his Medical Degree from the University of Messina in 1981. He has been licensed and practicing medicine in New York and New Jersey for over 20 years. Dr. Marchione is a respected leader in the field of smoking cessation and pulmonary medicine. He has been featured on ABC News and World Report, CBS Evening News and the NBC Today Show and is the editor of the popular The... Read Full Bio »