Shortsightedness, Screen Time and Depression

The surprising links between them.

4 min readJun 22, 2022


Photo by Marek Levák on Unsplash

50 years ago, there was no cable tv. There were no laptops, desktops or cell phones. Rotary phones were all we had and we spent endless days outdoors doing what kids did. Playing marbles, riding bikes and stealing mangoes from the neighbors trees.

Sounds terrible right? Lol.

In the hours between dinner and the next day, most of us read books voraciously. Ever sat on the toilet and read the shampoo label? Yeah, that was me.

Comic books, encyclopedias, novels, even my mom’s *Mills and Boone* romance books worked their way into my reading repertoire. Nothing was off limits.

I didn’t think much about being shortsighted, I was just born that way, it was genetic; some of us had to wear glasses. It didn’t come as a revelation that all that extra reading correlated quite well with levels of short sightedness.

Turns out the more you sit and do the near work required for ordinary reading, the more your eyes can go bad. Source: page 817: Risk factors for Myopia

Fast forward to today, we’ve actually found a way to make regular old shortsightedness much worse. Epidemically worse. We’ve discovered the magic of digital entertainment. Of reading on screens, and spending hours on our phones. When last have you checked your screen time on your phone? Here’s mine.

How does a person spend 9 hours per day on their phone? Apparently I’m doing it quite well.

Here’s the problem with looking at screens for extended periods: they cause physical changes to the shape of your eyes.

Think about it, just like in reading for prolonged periods, you’re near focusing for hours at a time. Our eyes dynamically adjust to allow focus at varying distances. To accomplish near focus, our eyes reshape themselves and become elongated.

For older folks, perhaps those of us not as addicted to screens as I am, eye strain may be the likely consequence of frequent but not constant use…




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