Can staring at phone screen for long hours in the dark cause retinal detachment?
Retinal detachment is more common in people over 50 years of age. The host of MasterChef and chef at the London restaurant Le Gavroche, Michel Roux Jr. had retinal detachment in 2004 and 2007; one in each eye. But timely intervention saved his vision.
Michel Roux Jr. and his retinal detachment
Michel Roux Jr. was less than 50 years of age when he suffered a retinal detachment. He had it in one eye in 2004 and in the other eye in 2007. He was fortunate that timely intervention saved his vision and prevented any sight loss. Talking about it in 2011, Michel Roux Jr. said:
‘On the first occasion, by the time I saw a specialist it was almost too late and he made no promises about saving my sight,’
‘It’s a very scary thing to start the day with everything fine and then suddenly find you are in danger of going blind in one eye.
‘I would tell anyone who gets the symptoms I had to act quickly – you only have a small window of opportunity to do something before it’s too late.’
He reached in an emergency and was referred to Moorfields Eye Hospital in London where he was operated on. He said:
“I was one of the lucky ones, I was so pleased to have my sight saved that I redoubled my efforts to support VICTA, a charity helping visually impaired children. Each year I run the London Marathon to raise funds for them.”
What is retinal detachment?
It is a condition when the light-sensitive tissue known as the retina separates from the inner surface of the eyeball. This leads to visual disturbances and if severe even blindness. It is common in elderly and can also occur post severe trauma to the eye such as in the case of the former PM of the UK Gordon Brown. It occurred after a rugby accident at age 16. Cataract eye surgery and shortsightedness can increase the risk.
Larry Benjamin who works as Consultant Ophthalmologist at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire states:
‘With age, vitreous gel, which fills the eyeball, becomes more watery and can pull the retina, causing a tear or small hole.
‘This allows fluid to pool behind it, causing the retina to peel off the back of the eye like wet wallpaper from a wall.
‘The retina is essential for vision: light enters the eye and is focused on the tissue on its back wall, much like light is focused on film in a camera.
‘The retina translates that image and sends it via the optic nerve to the brain, where it is interpreted. If a detachment develops, the pictures the brain receives become patchy or are lost completely.’
The most common symptom is a shadow spreading across one eye. There can be flashes, spots of dark floaters in front of the eyes. It is never painful and prompt treatment can improve outcomes.
Retinal detachment and young age
There have been cases of retinal detachment reported in non-myopic patients who are young not supposedly in the high-risk category for it. In 2014, a young man aged 26 was found to suffer from this condition. This man from China needed an emergency surgery. It was believed that his excessive phone usage had led to this problem. This young man used to text his girlfriend for long hours and often in the dark.
Optometrist Andrea Thau spoke to NBC and said:
“Our eyes have evolved for three-dimensional viewing so we wind up overfocusing as we strain to find a 3-D image on a close-up 2-D screen.”
More research in this direction would be fruitful.
Source: daily mail, Mirror UK