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Retina and the Future of Screen Use

New research from ophthalmologists shows that our eyes are rapidly changing as we adapt to screen use on smartphones and computers. Our eyes are supposed to stop growing in our teens yet with extended periods of time using screens, they are continuing to grow.

When we spend time focusing on things at near, such as phones and tablets, our eyes start to elongate. This prevents our eyes from bending the light as it should. Elongation results in Myopia, another term used for near-sightedness, which causes our distance vision to become blurry. Myopia affects half of adults in the United States, twice as many as fifty years ago.

“We can clinically measure the millimeter lengthening of the eyeball,” explains Dr Eric Chow, a Miami, Florida optometrist. “Studies have shown that the longer the axial length, the higher the risk of eye diseases like glaucoma, retinal detachment and cataracts.”

Straining vision & myopia introduces a host of eye-related problems. “The nearsighted have much higher chances of retina tears and glaucoma, bigger issues secondary to nearsightedness." explains Dr Aaron Miller, a pediatric ophthalmologist.

He adds: “The shape of the eye is round like a basketball,” he explains. “When an eye becomes nearsighted, myopic, the eye is longer, like a grape or olive. The retina – the coating – can get stretched and thinned. As we age, sometimes there can be breaks in the retina. Like cracks in wallpaper. When that occurs, these cracks cause fluid to enter in behind the wallpaper, that’s what we call retinal detachment which causes a lot of people to go blind.”

Lifestyle changes are recommended by Ophthalmologists during our recent shift to screen usage. It is recommended to take breaks to let the eyes rest during screen usage, it's referred to as the 20-20-20 model. Every 20 minutes, look at a distance 20 feet away, for 20 seconds to give your eyes a rest. During this time take a walk, studies have also shown that increased sunlight decreases near-sightedness progression.

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