It seems many of us like to wind down after a long day by climbing into bed with our phones. Although scrolling through Instagram and watching videos on Youtube for a couple of hours might sound harmless, it could actually be doing you more harm than good.
The New England Journal of Medicine published an interesting study after researchers studied two women who, after using their smartphones too long in bed at night, went temporarily blind. That’s right, looking at too many cat videos and Channing Tatum photos while trying to fall asleep can lead to blindness. And now, it has a name: transient smartphone “blindness.”
The Journal‘s first case was of a 22-year-old who experienced recurring impaired vision at night for a year. The second case was of a 40-year-old who would lose her vision for 15 minutes every morning when she woke up. This happened for six months. We wonder if she got used to this frightening start to her days.
After examining each woman, it was discovered their symptoms happened after “viewing a smartphone screen, in the dark, while lying in bed (before going to sleep in the first case and after waking in the second).” The doctors took it one step further and tested their theories, according to livescience. They found out that when the women stared at their phones in the dark for a long period of time, “their vision was considerably reduced … and took several minutes to recover.”
But don’t fret, there is a logical reason behind all of this. Due to the contrast of the phone and the dark, a “differential bleaching of photopigment” happens. Doctors predict these symptoms will become more frequent in the overall population because looking at our phones in the dark for a long time is second nature to us at this point.
This temporary blindness does sound scary, especially to a person like myself who is already partially blind, but there’s an easy solution. In an attempt to avoid partial blindness, make sure you’re not covering one eye while lying down on your side and staring at your phone. Your pillow can unintentionally do this and it can contribute to impaired or loss of vision. You can also try to minimize your phone time before going to sleep, but let’s be honest — you won’t.