Scrolling Through Your Phone at Night Can Cause Temporary Blindness in Addition to Despair

Illustration for article titled Scrolling Through Your Phone at Night Can Cause Temporary Blindness in Addition to Despair

You may have thought that looking at Instagram right before bed only caused intense FOMO and other feelings of worthlessness, but it can also mess up your eyeballs.


Two unrelated cases in the U.K. involved women reporting to their doctors that they’d had vision problems in one eye. The first had no vision in her right eye at night for several months, the other would be unable to see in the morning from one eye for about 15 minutes.

The doctors wrote the cases up for a study in the New England Journal of Medicine, emphasizing all the testing that went on before they were able to figure out the problem. NY Mag reports that it wasn’t until they finally went to the ophthalmic clinic that a specialist discovered the issue through their personal histories. They were laying on one side of their face while staring at Facebook:

After asking them to record their symptoms for a few days, they said that the vision problems were always in the eye opposite of the side they were laying on.

The doctors suspected this was because if a person lays on, say, their left side, their left eye is partially blocked by the pillow and adapts to darkness, while the right eye adapts to the light and does most of the viewing. Which is fine until you look away from the phone and, with both eyes uncovered in the dark, the right, light-adapted eye is perceived to be blind until it readjusts to the darkness. They tested this theory on themselves and also had trouble seeing out of one eye for a few minutes.


The study was published as a way to warn people to avoid a barrage of expensive medical treatment when all you really need to do it get off your damn phone. It’s good for your eyes—and your soul.

Image via Flickr.

Contributing Writer, writing my first book for the Dial Press called The Lonely Hunter, follow me on Twitter @alutkin

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This is also why (theoretically) pirates wore eye patches: keep one eye covered in daylight so you can see up on deck, and then switch the eye patch to the other eye when you go below deck, where you will be able to see instantly because your previously-covered eye has already adjusted to the darkness.