Effects Of Smartphone Use On The Eyes And Its Evolution
Mankind and organisms have evolved good stereoscopic vision and distance vision so that they could farm, hunt and fish in order to survive the daily changing environment. Now, with the development of smartphones, tablets, computer or visual display units (VDU’s) and such other devices that reaches our fingertips every second of our life, a new emphasis has been placed on near vision. Noticeably, this development of technology has both good effects and adverse effects on our health and vision primarily (Singh 115; Oh et al 1).
Of all the basic senses out there, vision is the most fundamental necessity for all human beings and organisms on planet Earth. Without vision, we would not be able to perceive the wonderful colors that nature has presented to us. Neither would we be able to experience the extravagant fireworks on 4th of July in the sky. From my own experience as an international optometrist and hearing from other practitioners in India and overseas, I know that, now with the advancement of technology, vision has been affected at a great prize. According to Jeff Taylor, M.D., a Medical Director for YourSightMatters.com, at least 1 out of every 4 patients now complains about eyestrain due to reading text on a small screen. This can have a huge impact on vision causing visual disorders such as myopia, Computer Vision Syndrome, binocular and accommodative anomalies and other severe side effects on the health of our body that I would like to discuss in this paper.
In this research paper, I wish to discuss the findings of how smartphones relate to the near work in the vertebrate eye and it’s evolution. Moreover, if possible to any degree, how we as human beings can help to prevent the damage on visual health in the world that the smartphones and VDU’s are generating. I have subdivided this paper into sections that include the risk factors of developing myopia, an introduction to the fundamental knowledge of the eyes, and the findings with the changes in the health of the body and the eyes that smartphones and VDU’s are producing. A discussion to the nature of eye evolution in relation to the increasing near task activities with use of smartphones and VDU’s is also included.
Risk and Cost of Nature of developing myopia.Epidemiological studies now point to an increase in myopia prevalence over the past half-century (Foster et al p. 202). Particularly, factors such as hereditary and more recently, eyestrain due to near work by using digital devices such as computers, smartphones and alike has increased the risk of developing myopia and other binocular vision and accommodative problems (Maino et al p. 29). Large scale studies that have been performed in continents like Asia, Europe and Australia, point to all these factors that might have led to the myopia progression. However, none of these studies rules out the fact that the eyes could be changing due to constant demand that has placed on near vision tasks, which could be just a process of evolution. Hence, more research has to be carried out that delves deeper into the issue at hand.
Structure and Function of the camera eye.To begin with any assortment of points that I wish to elaborate and argue upon, one needs to know the baseline of what vision is, what the eye is, and what are structures are in it and what sort of role they perform. I briefly describe to my knowledge and to that of Dr. Mila Ioussifova’s, who is an optometrist practicing here in Portland, Oregon, the structures and functions of the various parts of the eyes. According to her, our basic sense of sight is what enables us to see discrete pictures and images. Vision is the ability to see. Visual acuity is the measure of up to what point the eye can resolve by itself, through its optics and mechanics. Subsequently, our eyes are similar to a video camera that one can take pictures/videos with. In addition, every eye of every species, essentially works in this similar approach and order. Although the placement of the structures might be variable with the evolutionary history of that organism or species. The complex components of this system can be henceforth explained with an example, to simplify the structure and function of the eyes.
Imagine an image of a beach ball that is projected onto a camera type eye. The image of the beach ball is projected through the various layers of the eye and comes to a sharp point focus on the back of the eye where the retina lies. As the image of the beach ball traverses through air, the incoming rays of light from the image hit the first surface of the eye—the cornea, the clear and convex watch glass like structure in front of your eye where, if you wear contact lenses, reside. This cornea bends these incoming rays of light inwards through a watery like substance called the aqueous humor, towards the pupil, the black hole in the center of your eye, the size of which is controlled by the contraction and relaxation of the iris muscles—the shutter of the video camera lens. And, the rays of light are again bent towards the fovea of the retina through a crystalline structure called the natural lens. This natural lens is able to change its shape with relation to near tasks, by changing its thickness and being able to focus at different distances to meet the requirements of the near task.
The function of the natural lens is what makes the eyes see things up close. Metaphorically, this lens is similar to a muscle that is contracted and relaxed. As we progress into old age, this ability is lost and hence sometimes requires a near reading glass prescription, and denaturation of these proteins can lead to cataract. The ability of this lens carrying out this action in young age is what is relevant to the discussion here. Henceforth, the near triad of the eyes composed of accommodation: the involuntary bulging and relaxation of the natural lens, with convergence, the activation of the two medial muscles of the eye and pupillary miosis, the constriction of the iris musculature, are activated when one looks at a near object such a book, a computer screen or a smartphone. With excessive use, this system can go into overdrive and cause many visual disorders that contrast both to the binocular use of the two eyes to many accommodative disorders that hamper the focusing of image from far to near or near to far. It similarly relates to how you pull a tendon in your muscles when you exercise.