AARP Eye Center
Your cellphone can be a lifeline. You use it to stay in touch with your children, grandchildren, friends, neighbors and even doctors. You use it for navigation while you’re driving, or to research restaurants or shops. It can be an important health device — helping you track your steps, reminding you to take your medications and serving as a vital resource in an emergency.
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But even though cellphones help with everyday safety and convenience, they can also cause health problems. Read on to learn about potential health and safety dangers and to get some tips for how to safely use your cellphone.
1. Your phone is hurting your eyes
Your cellphone emits blue light, and with prolonged close-up use, your retinas might be affected, according to research from the University of Toledo published in Scientific Reports. To reduce the risk, try to avoid looking at your cellphone or other devices in the dark. If you want to use your phone while you’re in bed, make sure there’s a light source close to you to provide adequate light. To add a layer of protection, you may even want to purchase glasses that block blue light.
Excessive cellphone use can also cause eyestrain. According to a recent medical study, people who use their cellphone for more than an hour at a time experience tired eyes, sore eyes and sleepy eyes. The study found that symptoms worsen with increased cellphone use. The study defined eyestrain as discomfort, fatigue, blurred vision, headache, occasional double vision and sore eyes. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, your cellphone could be the cause.
To help prevent eyestrain and headaches, take regular phone breaks, recommends the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Follow the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look at an object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. Short walks can be beneficial as well — just be sure to leave your phone behind.
2. Your phone is messing with your sleep
In addition to damaging your eyes by using your cellphone in dark settings, your phone could be disrupting your much-needed nightly sleep. “Sleep disorders increase with age, and nighttime screen use may interfere with sleep,” Howard Krauss, an ophthalmologist with the Pacific Neuroscience Institute in Santa Monica, California, said in an email, adding that it could disrupt circadian rhythms and, depending on the content you’re reading, cause increased anxiety levels.
So if your wind-down activity includes reading on your phone, playing Wordle or streaming classic TV sitcoms on one of your devices, you could be setting yourself up for a restless night.