Man experiencing digital eye strain and a headache from using a smartphone

How to Adjust Your Smartphone to Prevent Headaches

The modern smartphone does a whole lot more than just make calls. Smartphones are a gateway to the electronic world with apps for reading books, listening to music, watching TV, playing games, paying bills, and video-chatting with friends. But with all of the fun and productive things that smartphones can do, there’s a downside to them as well. Many people experience light hurting their eyes and suffer from eye strain due to prolonged smartphone use. To help prevent the electronic device headaches it can cause, this article will provide tips on how to adjust smartphone settings and become a healthier smartphone user.

Can Staring at a Screen Cause Headaches?

The short answer to this question is yes, screen time can definitely lead to headaches. Not only smartphones are to blame in this regard, but also desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and televisions. Although the eyes are very strong muscles, they can get tired just like any other muscle in the body.3 The human eyes are naturally programmed to look farther out into the distance than a screen being held or propped up on a table. So, to focus on a screen, the muscles of the eyes have to constantly adjust and readjust from their natural seeing distance to a much closer distance. This stress is a common cause of eye strain, fatigue of the eyes, and electronic device headaches.3
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The Effects of Electronic Device Eye Strain

Whether working, reading, or playing games, electronic device eye strain affects smartphone users of all ages. Not only does it lead to painful headaches that get in the way of one’s daily enjoyment and productivity, but there are often other symptoms present too.2,3 For example, individuals suffering from electronic device eye strain may feel burning, stinging, or tired sensations in the eyes. They may also have trouble focusing the eyes after a while and start to develop neck and back pain over time.2,3

Smartphone Settings for Headache Prevention

Fortunately, there are some simple adjustments that can be made to smartphones to make them less problematic. For example, a smartphone user can adjust the screen color so that it filters out blue light. Blue light has been connected to migraines, and there are blue light filter apps available for download. It is also a good idea to adjust the brightness level of the smartphone, perhaps dimming the brightness in dark environments to reduce the visual contrast. To support eye health and reduce electronic device eye strain, increase the font size of the smartphone’s text so that it’s easier to read without squinting and straining the eye muscles. Voice controls, such as voice search and text-to-speech functions, are great options for headache sufferers because they reduce screen time and also make it easier to use the device while experiencing a headache.

Other Simple Adjustments for Light Hurting Eyes

In addition to making these setting adjustments, there are many other things that one can do to protect from electronic device eye strain and prevent headaches while looking at screens. Consider purchasing an anti-glare screen protector to reduce the reflection of bright light that triggers headaches. While spending time on a smartphone, remember to blink often to increase moisture in the eye and reduce potential irritation and dryness. It may also help to hold the device a bit farther away from the face and to take breaks using the 20-20-20 rule (for every 20 minutes of screen time, take 20 seconds to look at something 20 feet away).2,3 For electronic device headaches that persist, Vanquish provides fast and long-lasting relief without a prescription.1
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Vanquish® is indicated for tension headaches. If you have a cluster headache, sinus headache, migraine headache or any other type of headache you may want to consult a doctor.

References for How to Adjust Your Smartphone to Prevent Headaches

  1. Altabakhi, I. W., & Zito, P. M. (2018, December 2). Acetaminophen/Aspirin/Caffeine. Retrieved on August 22, 2019 from
  2. Healthline. Eye Exercises: How-to, Efficacy, Eye Health, and More. Retrieved on August 24, 2019 from
  3. Mayo Clinic. Eye Strain. Retrieved on August 24, 2019 from
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