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Study: gawking at your phone in bed can lead to 'transient smartphone blindness'

Posted: , by Daniel P.

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This position is fine, but don't bury one eye in the pillow, or you might think you are going blind

This position is fine, but don't bury one eye in the pillow, or you might think you are going blind


When two women with the same weird temporary vision impairment case came to visit a renowned ophthalmologist as a last resort, he simply asked them "What exactly were you doing when this happened?" The women, 22 and 40, complained of numerous transient monocular vision loss incidents in the past few months. Still, their "ophthalmic and cardiovascular examinations were normal. Vitamin A levels and the results of magnetic resonance angiography, echocardiography, and a thrombophilia screening were also normal," says the study.

This presented somewhat of a conundrum for physicians, as usually monocular vision loss is the result of a thromboembolic (blood clot) incident. Well, this time around it was something much less sinister - their smartphones. After careful examination of the events that lead up to the temporary blindness symptoms, it turned out that the women were both lying on the side in their beds late at night, with one eye covered by the pillow, and the other staring at their phone's screen.

It seems to be precisely that setup which brought on the vision loss, established the researchers, and cited the physics behind it: "due to differential bleaching of photopigment, with the viewing eye becoming light-adapted while the eye blocked by the pillow was becoming dark-adapted. Subsequently, with both eyes uncovered in the dark, the light-adapted eye was perceived to be “blind.” The discrepancy lasted several minutes, reflecting the time course of scotopic recovery after a bleach."

Moral of the story? Don't cover one of your eyes, and stare at your phone screen in the dark with the other, you might think you are going blind, and bring unnecessary strain on your health insurer's budget for costly exams.

Transient smartphone blindness mechanism chart

Transient smartphone blindness mechanism chart


4 Comments
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posted on 24 Jun 2016, 03:56 2

1. sachouba (Posts: 209; Member since: 08 Jun 2014)


Hahaha, that happens every time I use my smartphone in my bed.
Couldn't these people figure out what was happening themselves ? Have they ever had a science class ?

posted on 24 Jun 2016, 04:00 1

2. LetsBeHonest (Posts: 1485; Member since: 04 Jun 2013)


Lol... I too experienced such. Glad it is a temporary issue.

posted on 24 Jun 2016, 04:54 2

3. AmashAziz (Posts: 1039; Member since: 30 Jun 2014)


Yeah, but doing so continuously can strain your eyes too much, and might have an adverse affect on vision. So such a position must be avoided. Smartphone must be viewed in a brightly lit surrounding rather than in a dark one, with a 25-30 cm distance between the screen and our eyes.

posted on 24 Jun 2016, 14:11

4. droidmac (Posts: 14; Member since: 08 Jan 2016)


Reading this with one eye open,and in the dark

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