Mobile phones have made our lives easier and more complex. Aside from the ease of use and the ability to collectively work abroad from the office, our mobile society has freed us from tethered wires and gluing our eyes to monitors.
But as time has gone on, and our phones have changed with the need for more space, bigger screens and more power consumption— so have the risks from prolonged use of them. This is not to say to discard your mobile device, but you may want to practice some safety tips to keep yourself healthy and safe.
A study published in 2014 in the International Journal of Health Sciences noted that there are several risks involving cell phone use— some are obvious, and some are not. The first risk is that there is a three to four times greater chance of being involved in an automobile accident because of cell phone use. Today, most accidents are caused by distracted driving. Luckily, there are several hands-free devices that help with this, but there is one tried-and-true method— waiting. Remember that there isn’t a call or text that is that important that it can’t wait until you get to your destination. You can always return the call, but you only have one life. If you must answer, then pull over to a rest stop or a “text” spot— and do it from there.
Another important reason for limiting your cell phone use is age-related macular degeneration— one of the leading causes of blindness in adults ages 50 and over. Recent studies have shown that prolonged blue light exposure from mobile devices can increase an adult’s risk of developing this disease. To combat this risk, a good diet full of lutein- and zeaxanthin-rich foods can help improve your eye health, and keep the age-related macular degeneration from impacting eye health.
A study published in the Journal of Ophthalmology in early 2017 showed that a diet rich in lutein with eye-healthy minerals is beneficial to us in so many ways. While there are many supplements on the market touting eye health with lutein, you can find a good dose of lutein and zeaxanthin in spinach, avocado and pistachio nuts. The study also pointed out that eggs, which has been called “the superfood of the year,” is rich is lutein too— especially cooked egg yolk.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are fat-soluble substances that fall into a class of carotenoids called xanthophyll. They are the reason for pigmentation in the eye, and are responsible for sharp, clear vision. Researchers found that how much lutein and zeaxanthin we consume could be a key factor as to whether we fall victim to age-related macular degeneration or AGM. The data showed that in the United States between 2010 and 2050, the disease is likely to double! Also, the study pointed out that between 1987 and 1992, consumption of lutein-rich foods decreased— aiding to the possibility of developing the disease later in life.
Researchers suggest a diet high in lutein and zeaxanthin found in foods like kale, spinach (cooked or uncooked), pistachios, oranges, tomatoes and eggs— just to name a few— is one of the healthiest ways to get lutein. Researchers also believe that increasing your diet with higher intakes of lutein-rich fruits and vegetables is likely to play an important role in protecting against age-related macular degeneration. Changing your diet to include these lutein- and zeaxanthin-rich foods may just be how we can keep our eyes healthy as we age, especially as our electronic devices seem to be attached to us at the hip.
Additionally, keeping your phone away from you while you sleep will keep radiofrequency (RF) energy from disturbing your sleep patterns. Electromagnetic energy can disturb your sleep, and blue light emission can also make sleep patterns unstable. The best thing to do is learn how to unplug at night. If you use your cell phone as a morning alarm, keep it a good distance away from you and set it to do not disturb so your notifications are automatically pushed to the next morning.
Another trend that has become popular is keeping the cell phone tucked close to the skin. While there is no concrete data to say that this could be harmful, there have been reports of developing cancers. In 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer said that mobile phone radiation is possibly “carcinogenic.” What this means is that the radiation could have the ability to develop certain types of cancers. To be safe, keep your cell phone away from your body and use a hands-free device. If you must hold the phone to your ear, use it for short periods of time. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has countered the report by issuing its findings on cell phone use and radiofrequency emissions.
You can view the FDA’s report on cell phone use here: https://www.fda.gov/Radiation-EmittingProducts/RadiationEmittingProductsandProcedures/HomeBusinessandEntertainment/CellPhones/ucm116282.htm
This is not to say that using your mobile device is dangerous, but like with anything— moderation is best. Putting down your cell phone is healthy occasionally. Give it a try.
Scripsema NK, Hu D-N and Rosen RB. Lutein, Zeaxanthin, and meso-Zeaxanthin in the Clinical Management of Eye Disease. Journal of Ophthalmology 2015;2015:865179. doi:10.1155/2015/865179.