Uh oh: Using your phone in the dark may cause (temporary) blindness

Our version of winding down at the end of the night is shutting our laptops, getting in bed…and then using our phones. So we’re a little perturbed by this report published in the New England Journal of Medicine that found using your phone in bed could lead to temporary blindness.

Researchers looked at two cases involving women in the U.K. who reported vision problems either at night or right when they woke up. For both patients, exams for their eyes, hearts, and other areas all came up clear. So why were they experiencing this?

The one thing they had in common was their phone usage: both women would scroll through social media in the dark before bed. After asking the women to record their symptoms for a few days, doctors found that the blindness always occurred in the eye on the opposite side of the side they were laying on.

Because of this, doctors believe the eye on the side that we lay on is often blocked by a pillow while we look at our phones, therefore it’s adjusted to the dark in the room. The other eye is exposed to the light of the phone. When you look away, however, the eye that was exposed to the light needs to adjust to the dark, which is why something seemed off for the two women.

The takeaway? If scrolling on your phone helps you relax before bed, make sure you turn down the brightness. And if you do end up feeling blind in one eye, know that is probably not a big deal. (But definitely see an eye doctor about it!)

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