Overuse of IT Gadget Leads to Eye Deterioration

An increasing number of people are suffering from presbyopia, where the lens of the eye loses its ability to focus as a result of excessive strain.

Kwak Hyung-woo, a professor of ophthalmology at Kyunghee University Hospital Medical Center, said, "More and more young people are suffering from presbyopia as excessive usage of Smartphones and IT gadgets puts more pressure on the eyes than ever."

Three hospitals led by Donga University Hospital in Busan carried out a survey of 800 patients in 2011, and found that the proportion of those aged between 36 and 40 suffering from presbyopia increased from 3 percent in 2006 to 7 percent in 2011.

Presbyopia is commonly found in people from their mid-40s onwards, but now more younger people are suffering from it. Park Woo-chan, an ophthalmology professor at Donga University Hospital, said, "Looking closely at computer or smartphone screens puts sustained tension on the ciliary body muscles, which adjust the thickness of crystalline lens. This can weaken the functions of the ciliary body and result in presbyopia."

Xerophthalmia, or dry eyes, is also commonly found among people over 40 but recently afflicts more younger people. Kim Tae-im, a professor of ophthalmology at Severance Hospital, said, "With a flood of IT gadgets like smartphones, people tend to look at smaller letters for longer hours and don’t blink as often as they used to."

The key to maintaining healthy eyes is not to overtire them. Maintaining at least 35 to 40 cm distance between the eyes and the computer screen is ideal, as is positioning the monitor slightly below eye level.

Smartphones tire the eyes more since the screen is small and held closer to the eyes. Doctors recommend good posture and keeping the screen as far away from the eyes as possible.

A 10-minute break after 50 minutes of using computer or smartphone is also recommended.

englishnews@chosun.com / Jan. 16, 2013 13:29 KST