Here is a list of latent worries I constantly, constantly have, humming away like an old fridge, the worries, a panicked sound that is there so long you almost ignore it—almost—until in the dead hours of the night it wakes you and won't let you rest with its clanging:
— That one day a small dog will use its incredible leg strength and vertical leap to jump, gracefully, perfect spiral, and bite me directly on the dick and/or balls;
— That my wisdom teeth, which never truly have emerged, are doing something incredibly uncool down there in the depths, that maybe my wisdom teeth are growing sideways through my jaw, or something, burrowing through the bone, and that eventually I will have to go full "Raiden in Metal Gear Solid 4" about it;
— That squinting at Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram again, Twitter, Facebook once more, then Twitter for half an hour before I do anything every morning will eventually make me totally and utterly blind;
Anyway, bad news for me, then, because a recent medical journal report has found that looking at your iPhone in bed can make you temporarily blind. Obviously, some caveats, before we start: the blindness reported in this journal is temporary, i.e. up to but not exceeding 15 minutes; it was only reported by two women, aged 22 and 40, so hardly a startling sample size; they were both looking at their phones in a darkened room; they were both looking at their phones through one eye. So, yes: if you sit in a darkened room and look at your phone with one eye, for ages, you can—maybe—go a bit blind, in that eye, for a bit. So open both eyes and maybe the curtains. Done. Eye health.
"I simply asked them, 'What exactly were you doing when this happened?'" Dr. Gordon Plant, of Moorfields Eye Hospital, recounted in the New England Journal of Medicine this week, before hypothesizing how the whole dark + one eye thing was contributing to the temporary blindness phenomenon. "You have one eye adapted to the light because it's looking at the phone, and the other eye is adapted to the dark," he said. When the women then opened both eyes, the phone eye occasionally went blind. "It's taking many minutes [for the other eye] to catch up to the other eye that's adapted to the dark," explained Plant.
To remedy their temporary blindness, Plant told the women to just open both eyes when they looked at their phones in the morning. One of the women did, saying she was relieved the temporary blindness wasn't indicative of a more serious long-term health concern; another kept a month-long blindness diary before admitting Plant might have a point, because fuck qualified doctors, huh.
There are rumblings of ophthalmic beef about this report, though. The American Academy of Ophthalmology's Dr. Rahul Khurana reckons the "dark + one eye = blind for a bit" theory is a neat hypothesis, but doubts two test cases are really enough to make it stick, especially as he and his wife both tried it recently, looking at their phones with one eye in a dark room, and neither one of them went temporarily blind.
"It was very odd," he told the Guardian. So, ultimately: we don't really know whether using your phone in bed can lead to blindness, temporary or otherwise, but if your eyes do hurt a lot while you're checking Instagram pictures of brunch or reading VICE articles, on your phone, about looking at your phone too much and going blind from it: maybe just try opening both eyes a bit .
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