Temporary Smartphone Blindness Does Exist (But It’s Easily Avoidable)

Temporary Smartphone Blindness Does Exist (But It’s Easily Avoidable)

I’m one of the many people who lay in bed at night with my phone to my face, scrolling through websites or chatting to friends. But apparently I’m at risk of temporary blindness from staring at my phone screen in the dark. Sounds scary, but there is an easy way to avoid this.

Couple with phones in bed image from Shutterstock

Staring at a bright screen in the dark can strain your eyes but it also increases your risk of “transient smartphone blindness”. That’s according to the New England Journal of Medicine, which talked about two women aged 22 and 40 who experienced this kind of blindness.

Dr. Gordon Plant of Moorfield Eye Hospital in London examined the women and found that their late-night smartphone habits contributed to this temporary blindness. He explained that the blindness was brought on by the fact they were looking at their smartphone with one eye while the other rested on their side in bed, blocking the light from the screen:

“So you have one eye adapted to the light because it’s looking at the phone and the other eye is adapted to the dark… [I’]t takes many minutes to catch up to the other eye that’s adapted to the dark.”

This transient smartphone blindness is ultimately harmless but unsettling to individuals who experience it. The best way to avoid this is to make sure that when you’re playing with your phone in the dark, keep both eyes on the smartphone screen.

[Via The Guardian]


  • Im generally not one to look at my phone in bed, generally I set the alarms I need for the next day, put on an audiobook or something and go off to sleep. Tonight however I might have to try and go blind………….FOR SCIENCE!!

  • hmm..this seems weird, or perhaps I am misunderstanding.

    One of the things you are taught in basic training is that when travelling on foot at night, and you are entering areas where there is bright light and you are going to be heading straight back into darkness, is to close one eye so that you can maintain dark vision. One eye immediately adapts to the bright light, but the other stays adapted to the darkness. Allowing the soldier in question to continue operations.

    Pretty sure sailors did this back in the day too. They wore an eye patch over one eye so that they could go below deck without falling flat on their face during the middle of the day. Yes, all those sailors weren’t one eyed, they were trying to maintain their dark vision.

    What I am getting at here is that this “smartphone blindness” is just a normal function of your eyes. Moreover, you are likely to be “blinded” more by looking at the screen with both eyes in the dark.

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