Vision Health

Smartphones and Temporary Vision Loss

Doctors may have to start asking their patients about smartphone use when diagnosing vision or neurological problems, according to an article from the Mayo News Network.

“I think if a person experiences a temporary loss of vision in one eye, that’s potentially a very important problem for which they should seek medical attention,” says Mayo Clinic neurologist Dr. Dean Wingerchuk.

But Wingerchuk also emphasizes that this condition “doesn’t always mean there’s an abnormality. His recent article in the journal Neurology indicates that there’s a possibility that handheld devices – like smartphones – may cause some cases of temporary vision loss.

Given that, Wingerchuk told the news network, physicians may need to start including smartphone use in the questions they ask patients.

Wingerchuk’s article stemmed from a case in which a patient “had gone for medical attention because she had two episodes where she temporarily lost vision in one eye.”

Although she was initially diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, in fact, Wingerchuk told the network, there  was a much less alarming explanation for her condition.

“She was lying in bed, using her smartphone,” Wingerchuk says. “She was really only viewing the phone with one eye. The other eye was blocked off by a pillow.”

The patient’s condition, Mayo says, is called “transient smartphone blindness, or TSB.” The episode usually lasts less than a minute, until the eyes “match adjustments” to the light.

The bottom line, Wingerchuk says: “So this is actually not a medical disease or disorder, but it’s a normal physiological phenomenon.”

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