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I often use my smartphone for prolonged periods of time (reading or drawing) and my vision gets noticeably blurry as a result (I once needed more than an hour to get it back to normal). I've read this is only temporary and does not cause any permanent damage but it's annoying and I would take any chances with that anyway.

Things I've done about it:

  • I use a dimmer and a blue light filter.

  • I optimise my pdfs for less eye strain (type, font size, background colour).

  • I also know about the 20-20-20 rule but I find this really impracticable - I try to take breaks once in a while but breaking the flow of whatever I'm doing every 20 min. is just not something I'd do.

Is there anything else that I haven't considered?

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First, whenever given the option for a "night mode" or "dark theme" (for instance, Reddit has a night mode switch under your name), take it. The less light your phone pours into your eyes, the better.

Based on the recommendations of my eye doctor, I actually use a combination of blue-light blocking app (for Computer Vision Syndrome) and reading glasses (for strain caused by focusing). It sounds like you already do the former, but I would highly recommend you talk to your eye doctor about what level of reading glasses would be best for you (mine told me +.85 so I rounded up to +1.0 which is the closest Walmart had) as your issues sound more focus-related.

I know this is a little radical, but another thing you might consider is an alternate display such as e-ink (My eyes blur like that much less when using my Kindle). Believe it or not, there are smartphones with e-ink displays (usually in addition to a color display). Sadly, I still haven't found a full-color e-ink device yet (though supposedly CLEARink is working with a tablet manufacturer), but hopefully you can move some of your smartphone workflows to e-ink to cut down on the strain.

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You should consider buying blue light glasses or rest glasses. Both are really cheap and are definitely helpful.

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Your description might also fit focus-related eye strain. Especially if you're past forty years of age, you may unknowingly be straining to focus on the screen. A pair of inexpensive reading glasses (in the USA, most pharmacies offer them for under $20), the weakest that are comfortable at your working distance, might improve your situation very noticeably.

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