Can phone screens impact vision?



Cell phones are by far the most important object to carry EVERYWHERE for a large majority of people. It is the only way we can quickly contact people, take photos, check emails, use the internet, and of course post on social media. Over time, as technology became more and more relevant and useful, people rely more on their cell phones to the point where we can’t live without them. But can this be healthy to the human body? Staring at a glass screen with electrical conductors for minutes to even hours (depending on the person) does not seem like something that can be beneficial to the eye. Once in a while everyone has that fuzzy feeling in their eyes after scrolling through their phone for a while, similar to the feeling of quickly going from a dark room to a really bright one but is that just a temporary feeling that creates no problems? or does it slowly create long term damage to the eyes?

After researching about what this can exactly do to your eyes, Jeff Taylor, M.D., states that one in four eye patients have complained about their eye strain after reading the small font on their cellular device. He also explains how our blinking rate decreases while looking at a phone screen after a period of time and as we squint to look at the screen not only does it affect our eyes, but our neck, shoulders, and facial muscles all tighten. This is called Computer Vision syndrome according to this website. Although the computer vision syndrome does not seem healthy, it is a temporary cause from using your phone. It has yet to be 100% proven that cell phone screens cause visual impairment, but in this experiment  a team of researchers from Technion conducted an experiment with microwave radiation, which is extremely similar to the radiation cell phones give off.  They took eye lenses from one year old males calves and exposed it to the microwave radiation with one lens from each pair used for control. They exposed the lens to the radiation for a two week period and found two results: one being macroscopic damage affecting the optical quality of the lens, but with time would heal when the radiation stopped. The other result was tiny bubbles forming on the lens, this microscopic damage did not recover even after the radiation ended.


Smart phones give off this bright blue light that is visible at anytime of day, which can bother your eyes at night (especially when tired). This light can keep you awake at night because the screen mimics the light of the sun. This doesn’t necessarily damage our eyes, but it can have a negative impact on our sleep patterns negatively affecting our health. Because of this, the new I phone update allows us to shift our phone screen to “Night Shift”, which gives off a warmer tint rather that the bluish color. This may help us struggle less with falling asleep directly after using our phones, but could this new light option perhaps effect our vision in a negative or positive way? It may be too soon to notice differences in peoples eyes after using it every night since it just came out but it seems it will give a beneficial impact to our eyes.

6 thoughts on “Can phone screens impact vision?

  1. Marissa Dorros

    There are many theories about the possible downfalls of cell phones, such as the rumor that they cause cancer (see class blogs like Cell Phones & Cancer and Do Cell Phones Cause Cancer?), and this study, which explains how back pain in adolescents can be caused by frequent phone usage. Therefore, it’s interesting to think about the possible harm of cell phones from another perspective. Although cell phones seem harmless to most people, it’s important to investigate whether or not something that has become so prominent in society is harming us – just like what we discussed in class about scientists’ discovery of the harm caused by smoking cigarettes. In addition, what you mentioned about the bright light of screens at night time is interesting because it relates to the pop quiz article we read in class that explained the link between computer screens and depression. Could vision be a third variable affecting the link between depression and bright screens?

  2. Kaitlyn A Kaminski

    Hi Justine,

    Amazing article- I think your topic is more relevant now than ever because TVs and screens are everywhere with phones/computers. I think people need to worry about eye strain because it is a serious problem that may people do not worry about, but should. We have a gift of seeing and some people do not- that’s valuable and often looked over. I think we should appreciate what we have been given and understand that the eyes are sensitive and we need to treat them better. Here’s an article on eye strain when reading- enjoy!

  3. Margaret Marchok

    This was a very interesting post. I actually have been trying to limit my phone use in the morning because of the very symptoms you have described. Usually when I wake up, the first thing I do is check my phone for messages. Then, I scroll on social media for a bit until I am awake enough to continue with the rest of my day. However, sometimes I find that this really hurts my eyes. My eyes will feel very strained and I have to look away from my phone. I can’t believe that this happens to some people when they look at their phone for too long. I really liked the studies you included, however I can’t help but wonder if confounding variables come into play. First of all, the experiment was just done on cow lenses. I am curious as to what would happen if you did this experiment on humans. I wonder if our bodies would be able to combat the harmful effects of the microwave exposure. Also, I wonder if the people who reported having eye problems with phones have had other eye issues in the past, such as cataracts. These would all be interesting things to consider when listening to what they have to say about their experiences with phone light. Over-all, great post.

  4. Darby Helen Smith

    This article caught my attention because it is relevant to a large percentage of people in today’s technological society. This issue reminds me of something that people could look back on years from now wondering how the people of our age did not know how bad it was for our health. From this post, it seems like there are not enough studies that have been conducted on the hypothesis that phone screens effect ones eyes permanently. The only study that was mentioned to find any long term effects was done with a light source that was not a phone and with animal eyes instead of human eyes. Therefore, this study is a starting point but it is not legitimate enough to make any real conclusions from.

  5. Isaac Chandler Orndorff

    Very good article! Definitely I would reccomend adding more class discussions/definitons into the post. As someone with bad eyesight but also using his computer or phone constantly (I usually take notes on my computer), I don’t feel this “eye strain” after staring too long. However, I was told as a kid not to look at the tv for too long before I hurt my eyes. I always thought it was just a wive’s tale, and thus not relevant, but having an electronic device so close to your eyes all the time is probably bad for your vision. So I would agree in your hypothesis.

  6. Natalie Elizabeth Burns

    I like this article because I started noticing as I used my computer and phone more, my eyes started hurting more often. Both of your websites offered credible information especially the second one. In the “experiment” link it’s interesting how you said it gets better with time away from the radiation however, we never get time away from our phones. And, if we never get time away maybe this will eventually lead to long term damage. However, only time can tell with this experiment since we are only dipping our toes in on the surface of technology. This was a great post and maybe in another blog post it would be interesting to look at not only phone screens but laptop screens as well.

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