Digital tablets have not long been available to the public to buy but they have already revolutionised the way we surf the net, socialise and carry out our daily activities. But with the growing popularity of tablets from top manufacturers such as Apple, Android and Samsung, it’s important to consider how these new gadgets may be affecting our health. According to last year’s statistics, over 1 in 10 people in the UK own a tablet, with 64% interested in purchasing in the near future.
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So could tablets be causing damage to our eyesight or could they improve our visual skills?
People who regularly use computers for prolonged periods of time often suffer from eyestrain. When the eye muscles work hard, they can become strained, resulting in dry, tired eyes and headaches. As the smaller screens mean that text is often crowded into a smaller area, the eyes need to work harder to read it. To avoid eyestrain, the key is to limit the amount of time you spend using your tablet, particularly for reading. Take short breaks or close your eyes for a few minutes. You could even try using the zoom tool available on some brands to enlarge the text and reduce the strain on your eyes.
Does this mean we should abandon tablets altogether?
Not quite. Some research suggests that using digital tablets could actually improve visual skills. For the thousands of people around the world who suffer from macular degeneration and cataracts, the backlit screen on a tablet could make it easier and more comfortable to read. During a study investigating the effects of reading on a tablet or kindle compared to printed text, all the participants proved better able to read quickly on a digital tablet than print. One reason for this could be that the backlit screen offers clearer definition of letters which increases contrast sensitivity for the users. Therefore, reading on a tablet screen could actually improve visual skills.
In addition, for people who use their tablets for gaming, research suggests that other aspects of vision could be improved. When playing an action or adventure game, the player needs to demonstrate coordination, spatial awareness and fast reactions. For regular players, the skills gained could be transferred to real life, particularly in tasks such as driving. Being able to quickly recognise a target or an enemy in a game could improve the ability to see hazards on the road.
Whilst there is valid evidence to support both points, it seems clear that the digital technology can be used to your advantage to improve coordination, contrast sensitivity and even reading skills. As the digital tablet revolution seems set to grow and prosper, it’s important to use the device with caution. Limit the time you spend on your tablet and take regular breaks to reduce the risk of eye strain or dry eyes.
Victoria blogs for a leading online retailer of ray ban glasses, DirectSight.co.uk.