Health authorities have already warned against the negative health effects of smartphones and now a new warning has been issued against its use, lest people would suffer from temporary blindness. Researchers from London have studied two cases of transient monocular vision loss, or the loss of vision in one eye, and published their research in the The New England Journal of Medicine.
In fact, social media and the endless content in the Internet has made it difficult for most to let go of their new favorite plaything: the smartphone.
Transient smartphone blindness
Researchers defined the temporary vision loss as “transient smartphone blindness,” and said that while it is technically harmless, they recommend viewing smartphones in the dark using both eyes. Other health authorities have even strongly encouraged not using smartphones and other electronics in the bedroom because of its effects on melatonin.
Blue light signals the brain to stay awake
The blue light emitted by smartphones and other devices signals the brain to stay awake and keep the melatonin hormones low, making the body feel awake and not sleepy, and thereby sleep later in the night. Health authorities recommend an electronics ban an hour or more before heading to bed, especially for children, as sleep is vital in brain development.
Researchers analyzed two women
Researchers analyzed two women, the first being a 40-year old who complained of temporary blindness that lasted for 15 minutes after waking up before dawn and checking the news on her smartphone while in bed. Another woman was a 22-year old who complained of impaired vision at night, as she scrolled through her phone in the dark.
Women had no optic or neural problems
After several tests that included brain scans and cardiovascular examinations, both women were found to have no optic or neural problems. Upon examination of the two women’s smartphone habits, they revealed that they would look at their phones in the dark using one eye only, with the other covered by the pillow, as they were lying on one side. This caused the eye that absorbed light from the smartphone to take time to adjust to the dark.
Woman had habit of gazing smartphone before falling asleep
The first patient – a 22-year-old woman in England – had a habit of gazing at her smartphone before falling asleep. “She would lie on her left side and look at the screen primarily with her right eye. Her left eye was often covered by the pillow,” www.npr.org reported on Thursday. The other patient in her 40s had similar problems when she woke up before sunrise and checked the news on her smartphone before sitting up.
Looking at smartphones with one eye covered
It had been going on for about a year, ever since she had injured her cornea. Around the same time, she bought a smartphone, the report added. “They were looking at their smartphones and they just happened to have one eye covered because they were lying in bed,” Omar Mahroo, ophthalmologist at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London and an author of the paper said.
One retina adapted to light and the other to dark
“In both cases, nothing bad was going on,” Mahroo said, adding that it is just that one retina was adapted to light and the other to dark. “The retina is pretty amazing because it can adapt to lots of different light levels, probably better than any camera,” he noted. Retinas constantly adjust when someone leaves a room and enters a slightly dimmer room or goes inside after being outdoors.
Researchers asked to view the smartphone with just one eye
But these two women experienced a rare scenario in which that change would actually be noticeable. To get to the root of the problem, the researchers asked the two patients to view the smartphone with just the left eye and then just the right eye on separate occasions. They realised that the eye going temporarily “blind” was always the one that was being used to look at the bright screen.
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