What Is Transient Smartphone Blindness and How to Prevent It

What Is Transient Smartphone Blindness

Transient Smartphone Blindness (TSB) is a short-duration reduction in vision in one eye after exposure to the bright screen of a smartphone.

It’s found in people who use a smartphone in a dark room while lying in the bed on one side with one eye covered with the pillow.

Does TSB Really Exist?

TSB is quite common but is not easily noticed and even less commonly reported because of its transient and benign nature.

How Is Transient Smartphone Blindness Caused?

As mentioned above, Transient Smartphone Blindness is found in people who use their smartphone while lying in the bed on one side with one eye usually covered with pillow. For instance, if the person is lying on his/her right side, the right eye is partially or completely covered with the pillow. The left eye looks at the screen of the phone and becomes light-adapted. The covered right eye on the other hand becomes dark-adapted.

After a few minutes, if the person stops using the phone and looks around in the dark, he/she would experience darkness in the left eye (which was light-adapted) and see better with the right eye (which was dark-adapted)

This phenomenon is caused by differential bleaching of photoreceptors in the retina of both eyes. It is completely physiological and therefore TSB is not a pathological condition.

Why Should the Eye Care Professionals Know About This Condition

Some incidents have been reported in the past years in which patients’ Transient Smartphone Blindness were misdiagnosed as having some neurological or vascular disease. They were subjected to unnecessary investigations some of them quite expensive.

If the ophthalmologists and optometrists are aware of this relatively new condition, a detailed history itself will help in identifying the condition correctly without any need for further investigations and treatment.

How to Treat TSB

Since TSB is just a transient physiological phenomenon, it does not need any treatment. A reassurance to the person who experienced TSB is all that is needed.

How to Prevent TSB

Transient Smartphone Blindness can be prevented by a simple practice of looking at the phone screen with both eyes when using the phone in a dark surrounding. Make sure that one eye is not covered with the pillow or bed sheet etc. Both eyes will be equally light-adapted. Consequently there will be no experience of darkness (perceived as transient blindness) in one eye as compared to the other eye.

Reducing the brightness of the screen of the phone in the dark will also keep the bleaching of the photoreceptors to a minimum, therefore leading to less chances of experiencing the darkness/blindness in one eye later.



1. New England Journal of Medicine
2. Medscape Ophthalmology

Photo by Japanexperterna.se What Is Transient Smartphone Blindness and How to Prevent It 1

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