Checking your smartphone in the dark can make you temporarily blind

We are all aware of the many benefits and features of our beloved smartphone, but do we really know the dangers? Far from being a harmless little device, studies regularly show us that our cell phone has many health hazards. While we are already informed of the risks of cancer and sterility due to its waves, the possibilities of addiction that it induces or the many germs it carries, other harmful effects are still unknown to us.

An article published in June 2016 in the New England Journal of Medicine has highlighted a new harmful consequence of the excessive use of this "wonderful little high-tech tool": consulting it too often in the dark could make us temporarily blind! This warning is not based on supposition, but on fact. This medical article describes the case of two women who were temporarily partially blinded after repeatedly using their smartphones in bed at night. Ophthalmologists detail the ins and outs of this newfangled household accident.

A new type of easily preventable household accident

It is to the Moorfield's Eye Hospital of London that the veil was recently lifted on the mystery surrounding the partial and temporary blindness of the two women, aged 22 and 40 respectively.

When they came in complaining of recurrent episodes of vision loss in one eye, they were first subjected to a battery of tests ranging from MRIs to heart tests. But when no disease or physiological abnormality was found, Dr. Gordon Plant had the idea of asking them what they were doing before the episodes of blindness occurred. Their answers were the same: before losing their sight temporarily, each of them said they had spent a lot of time looking at their smartphone in the dark, lying in bed. Specifically, it turned out that both of them had a habit of looking at the screen of their phones not only in the dark, but also with only one eye, the other being hidden in the pillow. Their recurrent loss of vision in one eye was apparent the next morning. In the younger woman, the temporary blindness only allowed her to see the outlines of objects with her right eye, while the left eye continued to function normally. The second woman was totally blind in one eye until sunrise. These episodes of vision loss could last up to 15 minutes.

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For Dr. Plant, the conclusion is without appeal: it is indeed this maladaptive use of their visual function that was at fault. According to him, the blindness of these two women would have originated from the dissociation of their two eyes during a significant and repeated duration. By consulting their smartphones in the dark and with only one eye, the eye looking at the screen had to adapt to the light of the phone screen while the other eye, hidden in the pillow, was adapted to the complete darkness. It is, according to him, during the phase of vision rebalancing, i.e. when the eye having been solicited by the screen of the smartphone made sure to readapt to the vision of the second eye, that blindness occurred.

The ophthalmologist said that this blindness was harmless and easily preventable. It would be enough not to use your smartphone in this way to avoid this new type of domestic accident. He sent the two women home with no specific prescription other than to make sure they use both eyes when consulting their smartphones in the dark!

Dr. Rahul Khurana, spokesperson for theAmerican Academy of OphthalmologyIn his opinion, this is a fascinating hypothesis, but two isolated cases cannot prove that the cause of this blindness problem is the use of the smartphone with only one eye in the dark. He even doubts that many other users have experienced this problem.

Source : The Guardian

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