Smartphone obsession could be changing the shape of your eyes

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iPhone
Are iPhones making our eyesight worse?
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

iPhone-turns-10Smartphones may be changing the shape of our eyes, claims ophthalmologist Andrew Bastawrous in an intriguing new article for Wired U.K., marking 10 years since the launch of the iPhone.

Bastawrous says that smartphones may be linked to the phenomenon of more people becoming shortsighted than they were a decade ago, caused by the growth of their eyeball. The results can include glaucoma retinal detachment and another retinal problems. And sadly there’s no app for that!

“The growth of the eye tends to slow down in your late teens and stop,” Bastawrous is quoted as saying…

“But what’s happening in these population is that it isn’t stopping. It seems to continue, and it’s being seen all over the world but much more so in Asia. In some countries such as Singapore, more than 90 per cent of school children are leaving school myopic. This is having a huge shift in eye care. The next big thing for us is going to be myopia. The initial theory for this is that people are doing more near-plane reading activity with smartphones which is encouraging the eye to become myopic to meet that environmental need. There’s also evidence that suggests this is happening too quickly for it to be purely an environmental or genetic response. More recent data suggests a more important factor has been that we spend less time outdoors than we used to.”

The result of kids spending more time indoors with screens is that they spend less time outdoors looking long distances. He also suggests that the rise of devices like the iPhone can result in looking people in the eye less often, which can also have a detrimental impact on our empathy and social wellbeing.

While just one part of the bigger picture with connected mobile devices (as Bastawrous himself acknowledges), it’s certainly an intriguing — albeit alarming — notion that’s not going to be made any better by us looking at the world via augmented reality.

Hey, it’s just another piece of evidence supporting why Steve Jobs was right to limit the time his kids spent with their iPhones and iPads!

The whole Wired U.K. piece can be read here.