Smartphones Linked to ‘Transient Blindness’

Smartphone use has been tied to temporary blindness by doctors. Two women were affected after checking their phones in the dark.

Doctors described the case in the New England Journal of Medicine. Both women, ages 22 and 40, experienced ‘transient smartphone blindness’ for several months. They lost their vision for up to 15 minutes at a time.

It took some time to determine the cause of the problem, which was eventually found by Gordon Plant of Moorfield’s Eye Hospital in London. He realised that both women were using their phone in the same way: lying down on their beds, with one eye on the phone and the other covered by the pillow.

“So you have one eye adapted to the light because it’s looking at the phone and the other eye…adapted to the dark,” Plant said.

When the women put their phones down, they could not see with the eye that had been focused on the phone. This is because it is taking time to ‘catch up’ to the other eye, which had already adapted to the dark, said Plant.

Dr Rahul Khurana, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology, said that it was a “fascinating” hypothesis, but that two cases did not prove the root cause of the problem.

Analyst Comment

The news seems shocking, but is not as worrying for phone makers as it first appears. The simple solution is to use both eyes when using a phone in the dark (which should be avoided anyway, to avoid disrupting circadian rhythms)! (TA)