Facebook Bad for Your Health or a Sign of a Bigger Problem?

November 5th, 2010
Facebook Bad for Your Health or a Sign of a Bigger Problem?

One of Facebook’s biggest downfalls is its annoying habit of consistently revamping its appearance. Facebook has more costume changes than Broadway performers and they usually leave users feeling anxious, annoyed and angry.

Its latest change saw the font of one of its most popular features, the News Feed, shrink dramatically. In fact, reactions from users ranged from fears of going blind to blatant anger and allegations of ageism, since Facebook’s fastest-growing demographic is that of pensioners, who are prone to having difficulty reading minute print.

But some ophthalmologists are insisting that if Facebook users are experiences hurting eyes from poking around Facebook’s homepage it is likely to be because they are already subject to eye strain. Eye strain is the technical term that refers to any discomfort, dryness and redness that can result from focusing on a computer screen or other object for too long.

In fact, in Facebook’s defense, smaller font size is unlikely to affect user’s vision or eye health, ophthalmologists say. Also, the activities associated with eye strain will occur regardless of the size on the font, says Dr. Richard Bensinger of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Each time you use a computer for a prolonged period of time, more so if you don’t look away, you’re putting yourself in danger of eye strain, ophthalmologists say. Although eye strain does not bring about any long-lasting vision or eye damage, it does cause headaches and it will cause your eyes to become tired and result in sensitivity to light.

The best way to avoid eye strain is to limit looking at the same object, whether it is a computer screen or pages in a book, for under 20 minutes. After 20 minutes have elapsed, you should refresh your eyes by looking away from the object for 20 seconds, ophthalmologists say.

So while Facebook’s smaller font won’t land you in the hospital, it can still pose a problem for users of a certain age and those who have started developing presbyopia, the inability to focus to read. If you fall into either of these categories and are finding it difficult to comfortably spend time on Facebook, ophthalmologists recommend reading glasses or purchasing a larger screen, since a larger screen will increase the size of the font. Alternatively, you can utilize your web browser’s font function and increase the size to something more suitable for you.

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