Try not to end up square-eyed…

By | June 24, 2024

Did anyone else’s mum always tell them that if they sat too close to the TV, or watched it for too long, they’d go square-eyed?  Thankfully, that never happened (my face also didn’t stay stuck like that when the wind changed) but it did get me thinking about the smaller square screen that I carry with me pretty much everywhere I go.

Of course, smartphones are designed to suck you in and keep you scrolling through their apps – whether that’s on social media, or checking emails, or reading through the news headlines.  The bright light of the screen appeals to the little magpie in your brain that likes shiny things, and the ding and buzz of the notifications is designed to attract your attention and draw you back in even after you’ve put it down.

So while phones might not make your eyes go square, constantly looking at the bright light can really strain your eyes and tire you out, particularly late at night.  So the phone manufacturers have come up with some settings that you can use to reduce the amount of blue light that your phone produces, which should cause less eye strain.

On iPhones, this setting is called Night Shift, which changes the colours on your screen to warmer tones, rather than harsh blue and white light.  As you might have guessed, it’s mainly designed for night time, but you can turn it on manually any time you like.

To do that, open the Control Centre by swiping down from the top right of the screen (or swiping up from the bottom of the screen on older iPhones). When it opens, tap and hold on the Brightness slider with the sun icon to make it bigger and get some extra options at the bottom of the screen.

The one you’re looking for is “Night Shift”, which has an icon of a sun with a little crescent moon inside it.  Tap on that to turn it on.

On Android phones, the setting you’re looking for is called “Eye comfort shield” or “Night Light”, and you can find it in the Display category of the Settings app.  Look for a switch labelled “Eye comfort shield” or “Night Light”, and tap on it to turn it on.  If you can’t find it, try searching the Settings app for “Eye comfort shield” or “Night Light”.

You may find that if you’re doing something where colour is important, like editing photos, that you’d prefer to switch this setting off, which you do in the exact same way as turning it on.  But hopefully, it should mean that using your phone has less of an impact on your visual health.

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