The iPhone is now as familiar an extension as any natural appendage. In fact, it's better, because people used to be restricted to staring at their fingernails when bored. Now you're probably reading this instead.
But do you ever wonder what staring at that tiny screen for so long is doing to your eyes? Do those old sitcom-mom warnings about going blind from staring at a TV for too long apply to smartphones? As with most of life's unanswered questions, this subject is being researched as you scroll.
Could smartphones be making people more nearsighted?
Not in a metaphorical sense, but in the traditional "can't see objects far away" sense. Apparently, nearsightedness is on the rise, especially in young people, and no one can really figure out why. One study found that by 2050, HALF of the world's population will have some form of myopia, as opposed to the 23% now. That's a lot of new pairs of glasses, and a lot more awkward middle-school yearbook photos.
There's not a great explanation for why this is happening, but what's remarkable is that the prevalence of nearsightedness is increasing rapidly among the young. What the paper does say is that lifestyle factors are likely to blame: some theories are that no one spends enough time outside, people eat shitty food, and -- here it is -- "excessive use of near electronic devices." In other words, while there's no direct evidence, it kind of makes sense that you'd be nearsighted if you never have to look farther away than your phone or computer.