How your smartphone is giving you cancer? How your computer is trying to kill you and how Wi-Fi is causing migraines? These are the kind of questions that are being popular with bloggers right now, and at least I won’t be indulging in this baseless rhetoric. However, this curious incident that has probably happened with you many times is what you shouldn’t be afraid of as it is entirely natural and frankly obvious as well. It is the momentary blindness one can experience while on the bed using the smartphone. This 22-year-old English lady raised the complaint and became quite concerned which started a study into this peculiar behavior of the eyes.
It began to occur almost every other night and despite continued brain scans and visual field tests, nothing concrete came out. She also complained of losing her eyesight in the morning for like twenty minutes which was quite terrifying for her and as a result, she was often admitted to the ER and the stress was very worrying for her. Now being visionless is one of the least abstract things in vision science and causes can be anything from a light stroke to blocking of blood vessels in the eye and a compressed optic nerve.
But, Omar Mahroo, her ophthalmologist from the Moorfields Eye Hospital in London had a different theory and it turned out to be accurate. They are calling it the transient smartphone blindness and don’t worry, it is not a disease at all. We all experience it in one way or another every other day but not prominently since both of our optic nerves or retinas are doing it. It only becomes scary when only one eye is doing it.
So basically, the one eye part occurs because people are in a bad habit of gazing at their smartphones before going to sleep, and their stance is such that one eye is often covered in a pillow, and only the other eye is viewing the phone. Just like when you enter your home after exposure to bright sunlight, and yet it becomes difficult for you to see anything for several minutes, the same thing happens here but with one eye. But since the vision is mightily distorted with one eye showing full vision and the other one struggling, it causes panic and alarm for the people experiencing it. I too have experienced it many times.
The eye’s retina is an amazing organ since it can adapt to different qualities and intensities of light. It can reduce sensitivity while outside during the day and increase it in darker areas but it always takes some time to adjust along with the pupils and the cornea. So basically the light alters the pigment color of the retina cells for some time and it may take up to forty minutes for them to come back to their original color that can help us see in the dark room.
To test this hypothesis, Omar and his colleagues used a bright smartphone in a dimly lit room where everything was only barely visible. When they stopped using it, they experienced the similar blind vision for several minutes before the retina eventually adapted, thus confirming the earlier statement.
“The retina is like a minibrain in our eye, and we’re still trying to understand what goes on there,” says Omar as the retinal studies are still unsure of how image is actually transmitted to the brain back and forth. So, we won’t advise you to not to use a smartphone in a dark room as it has no known side effects but if you want to let’s say find keys after using your phone, you might need to turn on the lamp next time!