Tue, Dec 04, 2018 - Page 2 News List

Sunlight and phone use can harm retina: doctor

By Hung Chen-hung and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

An eye doctor in Pingtung County has warned of the risks of using smartphones under direct sunlight after a case in which a 27-year-old developed a hole in her retina linked to outdoor device use.

The patient, surnamed Huang (黃), began to experience distorted vision and a constant glare two years ago, Hung Chi-ting (洪啟庭), the Fooyin University Hospital ophthalmologist who treated her, said on Sunday.

In February, she sought medical treatment after noticing a decline in the vision in her right eye, Hung said.

Huang had myopia of about minus-5 diopters in both eyes, but when wearing glasses, she had a visual acuity of 0.5 in her right eye and 1.0 in her left, Hung said.

Optical coherence tomography showed that in addition to swelling, the retina had a hole, he said.

Huang said that she had to frequently leave the office to meet with clients and ended up using her smartphone under direct sunlight.

For more than three years, she spent four to five hours a day using the Line messaging app outdoors, she added.

Studies have shown that exposing the retina to blue light can damage the pigmented cell layer, as well as other cells, or induce macular bleeding, which can lead to vision loss, Hung said.

The ultraviolet light in sunlight and the blue light emitted by devices produce a synergy, he said, adding that two other people with similar symptoms have come to him for treatment over the past two months.

After three months of treatment, including a pneumatic retinopexy, the visual acuity in Huang’s right eye returned to 0.9 and the retinal hole disappeared, he said.

Leaving the condition untreated would have resulted in Huang slowly losing her vision, the doctor added.

Huang has added a screen protector to her smartphone that blocks blue light within the 400 nanometer to 450 nanometer range, which is most harmful to the eye, Hung said.

However, some screen protectors on the market falsely claim to block blue light and expose users to dangerous rays without their knowledge, he said.

Hung recommended using smartphones for no more than three consecutive hours under direct sunlight, or suggests wearing sunglasses to do so.

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