Smartphone-addicted Taiwanese warned of eye disease - Focus Taiwan

Smartphone-addicted Taiwanese warned of eye disease

Taipei, Oct. 17 (CNA) Taiwanese people are so addicted to smartphones that doctors are warning that 10 years from now, one in three of them will suffer from macular degeneration, which is a leading cause of vision loss.

On average, Taiwanese people spend 205 minutes each day on smartphones and half of the population suffer myopia, leading the world in terms of time spent on smartphones and the ratio of myopia patients, according to the results of a survey by T Star, a telecom service provider in Taiwan.

Of the total population, nearly 70 percent of Taiwanese people exceeded the average, spending more than 5 hours a day using smartphones; with some even spending more time on the devices than sleeping and others being more frightened that their phone would break than by their eyes being overused, according to T Star.

As 80 percent of the population are regular users of smartphones and over 70 percent subscribe to mobile internet services, Taiwanese people's eyesight will likely decline so much that in 10 years, one in three of them will be stricken with macular degeneration, said Lai Hsien- wu (賴弦五), T Star's CEO.

Lu Ta-wen (呂大文), a senior ophthalmologist at Tri-Service General Hospital, said macula, the retina's central portion, is responsible for focusing central vision in the eye, and it controls our ability to read, drive a car, recognize faces or colors, and see objects in fine detail.

When macular degeneration occurs, one's vision becomes blurred, and one's ability to read and work is affected, Lu added.

In the past, this eye disease hit mostly people 55 years or older and was a major cause for patients 65 years and above losing their vision.

But in the past 10 years, Lu said, people in the 40-50 age bracket have seen a 30 percent increase in macular degeneration cases.

Even younger people have been diagnosed with the eye trouble over the past two or three years, with some patients being in their 20s, said the eye physician.

He advised phone addicts to take a five-minute break following 30 minutes of "eyes glued to phones" and do such exercises as winking, turning their eyeballs and looking afar.

Besides allowing one's eyes to rest periodically, it's also important to check one's eyesight regularly at a physician's, he said.

However, the survey found that while 53.2 percent of the people feel their eyes are not in a great shape, only 23.2 percent of them visit a doctor to examine their eyesight regularly.

"It is time that you loved your eyes more than your smartphones," said Lu.

(By Esme Jiang and S.C. Chang)

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