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Researchers from SUNY State College of Optometry in New York City suggest that smartphones, iPads and similar devices may be harmful to the eyes. Since people read their text messages or hold these devices too close, their eyes tend to work harder, they announced. Due to its glare and tiny font sizes, our eyes tend to work harder, thus putting more strain on the eyes. This is especially strenuous for those who wear contact lenses or glasses.

“The fact that people are holding the devices at close distances means that the eyes have to work that much harder to focus on the print and to have their eyes pointed in right direction,” lead author Dr. Mark Rosenfield says. “The fact that the eyes are having to work harder means that people may get symptoms such as headaches and eyestrain.”

Prolonged periods of texting or Internet browsing using smartphone devices can lead to eye discomfort, dryness or blurry vision.

Dr. Rosenfield got the idea of studying the effects of smartphone devices on the eyes when he saw a lot of people holding their phones close to their eyes. Hence, it made sense to him to study how close people should hold their phones when texting or browsing.

When texting, the average distance should be between 14 and 16 inches. The researchers noted that some people hold their phones at only seven inches. When browsing the Web, the ideal distance is around 12 inches.

To prevent eyestrain, Dr. Scott MacRae, of the University of Rochester Medical Center, suggests increasing the font size on your phones. This way, you can be comfortable reading the texts while maintaining a safe distance between your phone and your eyes.