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Can phones cause eye bags?

It’s a common belief that excessive phone use, especially at night, can cause or worsen under-eye bags and dark circles. But is there any truth to this? Let’s take a closer look at the potential links between phone use and under-eye bags.

What causes under-eye bags?

Under-eye bags, also known as eye bags or periorbital puffiness, occur when fluids accumulate around the eyes, causing the area under the eyes to appear swollen or puffy. There are a few common causes:

  • Lack of sleep – Insufficient sleep can cause fluid to shift downward and collect around the eyes.
  • Allergies – Seasonal allergies or eye allergies can trigger inflammation that leads to fluid retention and puffiness.
  • Age – As we age, the tissues around the eyes weaken and become thinner, making eye bags more noticeable.
  • Genetics – Some people are just prone to under-eye bags due to hereditary factors.
  • High salt intake – Eating salty foods may lead to water retention, exacerbating undereye bags.

How phone use could contribute to eye bags

There are a couple ways that increased phone usage, especially before bedtime, may worsen or cause undereye bags:

Disrupting sleep

The blue light emitted from phones and other screens can disrupt the body’s natural circadian rhythms and melatonin production, making it harder to fall and stay asleep. Poor sleep leads to fluid buildup around the eyes. Staring at a bright screen in a dark room also strains the eyes.

Worsening allergies

Phones and tablets contain a lot of bacteria, oils, and allergens that can worsen eye allergies when the device is held close to the face. Rubbing the eyes after touching a phone can intensify this reaction.

The evidence on phone use and eye bags

While phone use seems logically linked to worsening undereye bags, direct scientific evidence confirming this connection is limited. However, a few small studies provide some insights:

  • One 2013 study of teenage girl phone users in Sweden found a positive association between phone screen exposure time and reported eye symptoms like itching, irritation, and puffiness.
  • A Korean study in 2014 investigated smartphone addiction and sleep quality in adolescents. Students classified as having smartphone addiction were more likely to have sleep disturbances and eye fatigue.
  • A study in Turkey looked at the eye symptoms and phone use habits of 200 medical students. Heavier phone users reported higher rates of eye redness, eye fatigue, blurred vision, and eye pain.

So while the data is still emerging, some early research does indicate a link between heavy phone use, especially at night, and exacerbated eye puffiness and other eye symptoms.

Tips to prevent phone use from contributing to eye bags

If you’re concerned your nighttime phone use may be worsening undereye bags, here are some tips that may help:

  • Limit screen time before bed – Turn off phones, tablets, and TVs at least 1 hour before bedtime.
  • Keep phones away from your bed – Don’t scroll on your phone while lying in bed.
  • Use night mode – Activate night mode or blue light filters to block some blue light from screens.
  • Take frequent breaks – Follow the 20-20-20 rule – take a 20 second break every 20 minutes to view something 20 feet away.
  • Clean phones frequently – Use alcohol wipes to disinfect phone screens and limit bacteria buildup.
  • Use dark mode – Switch on dark mode to dim bright white backgrounds and reduce eyestrain.
  • Try eye drops – Lubricating drops can soothe eye irritation caused by excessive phone use.

Making a few simple changes to phone habits, especially in the evenings, can help minimize eye strain and other symptoms that may exacerbate puffiness and bags under the eyes. But keep in mind that underyeye bags usually have multiple causes. If limiting phone use doesn’t seem to help, be sure to explore other lifestyle factors and medical reasons with your eye doctor.

The bottom line

While research has not definitively proven that phone use causes under-eye bags, excessive use at night can potentially disrupt sleep quality and strain the eyes in ways that exacerbate puffiness and dark circles. Practicing good phone hygiene, taking regular breaks, and limiting evening screen time can help minimize eye issues aggravated by phones. But consult a doctor if symptoms persist, as undereye bags often stem from non-phone related factors like genetics, allergies, medication side effects, and more serious conditions.