Checking your smartphone while lying in bed in the dark can hurt your eyes, at least for a short time. After looking at their phones during the night, two UK women temporarily went blind and now doctors want to warn others about the danger.

Unknown vision loss

In a recent New England Journal of Medicine article, doctors revealed the cases of two women who suffered from “transient smartphone blindness” for several months. The women, ages 22 and 40, had recurring episodes of temporary vision loss for 15-minute intervals several times a week. Doctors ran a series of tests, including MRI scans and heart evaluations, to determine what was causing the blindness.

However, the multiple medical exams found nothing.

Quick diagnosis

The women were sent to an eye specialist. Within minutes, the solution to the mysterious condition was found. Dr. Gordon Plant of Moorfield’s Eye Hospital in London asked the women about their activity just before the temporary blindness. He said the women had been looking at their smartphones with only one eye while lying on their side in bed. Only one eye was focused on the device.

Weird body phenomena

The eye looking at the phone was adjusted to the light, while the other had adapted to the dark, Dr. Plant said. After putting down the phone, the eye that was staring at the screen was temporarily blinded. It took up to fifteen minutes for that eye to catch up with the other eye.

Easy solution

Fortunately, the temporary blindness did not promote any long-term ill effects. By looking at a smartphone with both eyes, the phenomenon is easily avoided. To keep it from happening, one of the women stopped checking her phone while in bed. Meanwhile, the other remained unconvinced of the doctor’s advice.

Dr. Plant said she continued to use her phone, but kept a journal to track the occurrences. It was until after her careful measurements that she finally agreed with him.

Limited evidence

Dr. Rahul Khurana of the American Academy of Ophthalmology remains skeptical about “transient smartphone blindness.” He contends two cases are not enough to prove that using a smartphone with one eye caused the blindness.

He is unsure if other device users would experience the phenomenon. Khurana tried to recreate the situation that caused the blindness in the two women and was unable to do so. According to him, it was not easy to check his phone with only one eye.

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