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Is Smartphone Vision Syndrome The Real Cause For Vision Loss?

By Dr. Nikita Toshi +2 more

It is a known fact that increased screen time can cause immense vision and health problems in people of any age. However, it is practically impossible for many people to stay away from their phones and computers throughout the day. The adverse effects can be reduced by following a few measures.


During the COVID-19 pandemic, several students had to attend online classes and for work too, people had to be on their computers and phones constantly. This led to a rise in the number of people complaining about complex vision-related problems. 

According to a study, the average screen time of smartphones in India increased to 4.7 hours per day in 2021 from 4.5 hours in 2020 and 3.7 hours in 2019. More and more people have been using smartphones in dark rooms, which affects both eye and mental health. Smartphone vision syndrome is a result of the excessive use of digital screens. It is one of the rising health concerns in the country and worldwide. 

Did you know?

What is Smartphone Vision Syndrome (SVS)?

If a person uses a phone in the dark for a prolonged time and faces vision difficulties, he or she may have Smartphone Vision Syndrome (SVS). Some eye tests are performed to identify the problem and it is believed that the syndrome can lead to not only various eye problems but also vision loss.

According to doctors, the real cause of loss of eyesight is the habit of spending a lot of time on the phone, especially in the dark. If a person is browsing the smartphone for several hours at night when the lights are turned off, he or she is at risk of having this syndrome.

There was an incident in which a 30-year-old woman suffered from vision loss after spending 8-10 hours on her phone every day. 

Initial symptoms could be-

  • Blurred vision seeing floaters
  • Flashes of lights
  • Zigzag lines 
  • Double vision 

In children especially along with vision problems they are commonly affected by Autism due to excess screen time. The guidelines for screentime is NO SCREEN for less than 2 years, for 2 to 5 years no more than 1 hour and for 5 to 17 years no more than 2 hours per day.

Dr. M.G. Kartheeka, MBBS, MD

What are the main causes of vision problems?

  • Vision problems primarily occur when the eye muscles are fatigued or weakened due to their excessive use. This can affect the clarity of vision and you may see double images at times. 
  • Digital screens tend to generate heat and people looking at them for too long blink their eyes less frequently. Dry eyes, blurring of vision and other eye-related symptoms may occur.
  • People in large numbers are addicted to their phones and do not get adequate sleep, which again results in increased eye strain and eyesight problems. 
  • Another problem that arises due to smartphone use at night is short-duration blindness in one eye. When you are lying down, one eye gets blocked and the other eye is exposed to the screen light; this leads to poor or no vision. 

A screen time of less than 2 hours per day is essential to limit the strain on the eyes as it may be a cause of severe dry eyes and vision problems in children and adults.

Dr. Ashish Bajaj, M.B.B.S., M.D.

Ways to reduce digital screen time 

  • A person must always set a timer, take 20 minutes screen breaks and exercise or meditate to rest the eyes. 
  • Use the 20-20-20 rule- Look at a plain wall 20 feet away every 20 minutes for 20 seconds.
  • Be mindful and try not to use the phone too much beyond work or studies. 
  • You must set a routine and avoid looking at the phone in a dark room.
  • There are certain over-the-counter eye drops and medications which can help keep your eyes healthy. 
  • If your work demands long hours of screen time, consult an opthalmologist, take medicines and reduce your screen time. 
  • It may not be possible to ignore the smartphone entirely, but controlling screen time and adopting a healthy lifestyle is a must. 
  • Turn on the blue light filter to reduce eye strain and maintain an adequate distance from the screen.
  • Maintain correct posture and distance while using your phone.
  • Using phones while lights are off is a strict no-no.

Conclusion:

Smartphone Vision Syndrome (SVS) is a very common syndrome and can cause significant vision problems. As soon as a person notices any unusual changes, he or she should consult an ophthalmologist for proper diagnosis and timely treatment. While smartphones are an integral part of our daily lives, one must be careful about their usage, not overuse them and ensure that they do not develop a form of psychological or behavioural dependence on the phones.

Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.

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