Bedtime smartphone use can result in temporary blindness

A recently conducted study has established that smartphone usage during bedtime can cause temporary blindness. A team in Britain did the studies following claims from two women of temporary blindness in one eye, early in the morning and late at night. The report was published in The New England Journal of Medicine under ‘transient smartphone blindness. The report focuses on the possibility of short-term vision problems that occurs due to people looking at a bright smartphone in a dark room.

A look at the two women cases makes it easy in understanding the smartphone caused blindness. In the first case, a 22-years-old woman told her doctor that she experienced trouble seeing using her right eye at night while she was in bed. The episodes happened on multiple occasions a week for a year. She claimed that each time, she could only see the outline of objects with her right eye although her vision was fine in her left eye, and in both eyes the following day. An eye examination that was conducted showed that her vision was normal, and she had no signs of a blood clot or any other condition that might cause temporary blindness.

In the second case, a 40-year-old woman told her doctor that she could not see using one of her eye when she woke up early in the morning, before sunrise. The temporary blindness lasted for about 15 minutes. One possible cause that matched for the two women was that they both viewed their smartphone for a couple of minutes, while lying on their sides in bed.

The team hypothesized that the problem occurred because both women, were looking at their phone with just one eye, with the other being blocked by a pillow when they were lying down. In this situation, the blocked eye becomes adapted to the dark while the other is adjusted to the light. When the smartphone is turned off, the one eye that was being used, (light-adapted eye) is perceived ‘blind’ until it adjusts to the darkness. In other words, when using you are smartphone screen in the dark with one eye, you are ‘bleaching’ the light-sensitive pigments in that eye making them less sensitive to regular light than the other. This is the same effects a person experiences when coming indoors after being in the sun – you feel a little blind for a few minutes until the eye adjusts.

With the aim of verifying the research, the two women were asked to experiment looking at their phones with both eyes and with each eye. The patients noted that they did not experience symptoms when looking at the phone with both eyes, but when they used one eye, the symptoms were always there.

With the ever-increasing use of smartphones and their screens increasing in brightness, doctors expect to see more cases in the future. This discovery will help them diagnose the problem easily.

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