Anuska Chakraborty, B. Optom Student

Student, NSHM Knowledge Campus – Kolkata, India


It started at a time when we had nothing to do during the lockdown. We want to escape from reality. And that is why many of us have become addicted to scrolling through social media. Doom scrolling is a perfect word to describe this situation. It is a fact that we know, scrolling through social media for a long time, is not as good as we think. Still, we cannot refrain from that temporary entertainment. Now. the question is, can browsing on our favourite social media platform affect our eyes? The answer is yes, it is too unnatural to our eyes.

Could it be worse?

Unnecessarily (or maybe necessarily) scrolling on social media or more specifically, endless streaming of Instagram feeds is very stressful for our eyes. Imagine flexing your biceps for 10 seconds, letting it go, and doing this repeatedly for as much time as you used to scroll. Your arm muscles will get tired, right? The same thing happens with our eye muscles. (1)

Our eyes are unable to focus on a scene as fast as we scroll through reels or shorts. The continuous accommodative effort also takes place for doing the same. Pseudo-myopia means a temporary shift in refractive error of your eye towards myopia, which may occur due to the excessive accommodation.(2)

Asthenopic Symptoms

Prolonged exposure in front of any VDTs (Video Display Terminals) can cause asthenopic symptoms. These symptoms are blurry vision, redness, headache, photophobia etc. Specifically, at night we use to see our phones and try to focus on those pixelated images on the screen. It disrupts our circadian rhythm by reducing the secretion of melatonin. While looking at the screen for such a long time you might also feel vertigo, nauseous, dizziness, sweaty or cold sweat similar symptoms as oculomotor palsy. These conditions are also termed as Cybersickness. Cybersickness can occur when you scroll on your smartphone or computer, use multiple screens, or attend a virtual meeting in which someone else is controlling the screen. (3) Clinically these symptoms are the same as Motion sickness. There are various hypotheses that attempt to explain the cause of the condition. Some classic examples are Sensory conflict theory. This theory says when our vision and vestibular system are not synchronising (2), it means our eyes see movement but our balancing or spatial system thinks our body is at rest.(5) Another theory, Defense against poisoning says that the brain erroneously interprets a visual-vestibular sensory mismatch as a sign of intoxication, and nausea provides a mechanism of aversive conditioning to prevent future toxin ingestion (Treisman’s hypothesis of the “toxic” origin of nausea during motion sickness).(6)

Make some habits now (or else never)

  • Following the 20-20-20 rule
  • Limiting screen time
  • Blinking frequently
  • Always using a blue light filter
  • Maintaining proper distance from the screen
  • Stop using phone at least 1 hour before bedtime
  • Using anti-glare & anti-reflection coatings for glasses.
  • Practising these habits on a regular basis can help to reduce your eye strain. Or you may also consult your Optometrist to avoid any kind of major issues.

Take home messages

Needless to say, it is impossible for a person to stay away from surfing nowadays. As I am scrolling at the moment, while writing this blog, my eyes are no exception. Yet at the end of the day, it is our eyes, and we must know how to take care of it.



  1. Chaney, S. (2022, March 12). Stop Scrolling: The Adverse Effects Social Media Could Have on Your Eyes. [Available from –] [Last Accessed: 23Apr23, 7:00pmAEST]
  2. Wikipedia contributors. (2022, October 20). Accommodative excess. Wikipedia.
  3. Jasper, A. (2021, July 29). Screentime Can Make You Feel Sick – Here Are Ways to Manage Cybersickness. Government Executive. [Available –][Last Accessed: 23Apr23, 7:05pmAEST]


Picture Courtesy

Cover picture –