WE all know not to look directly at the sun.
But according to doctors, looking at your phone on a sunny day can be just as dangerous for your eyes.
Two young patients have suffered serious retinal damage after being caught out by the sun’s powerful reflection while looking at the screen on their device.
The retina is the layer of tissue in the back of the eye that is most sensitive to light.
It’s the part of the eye responsible for fine-detail vision that we need for tasks like reading.
Both patients were sure they didn’t look at the sun directly, leading medics to the conclusion that the sun’s glare, reflected off their phones, was responsible for their eye damage.
A 20-year-old unnamed girl who spent a few hours at a beach reading on her mobile phone has been left with long term eye damage.
Initially, sun damage to the girl’s retina meant she struggled to distinguish shapes that were far away.
She was also left with a permanent central scotoma — a blind spot that occurs in the centre of someone’s vision.
Meanwhile, a 30-year-old unnamed man, who read his tablet for four hours while on the sunny terrace of a ski resort, was left with disordered vision and unable to see things far away.
Luckily, his sight has made a full recovery.
Spanish eye doctors have called for more awareness around the potential risks of indirect sun damage to the eyes, writing in the Journal of Medical Case Reports.
The authors called for the use of sunglasses “with appropriate filter” while reading from in environments “where solar radiation is thought to be augmented” such as on the beach or near water.
Eye scans of the two patients confirmed they both had solar maculopathy, a condition usually caused by looking directly at the sun.
These are the first two cases of solar maculopathy cause by sunlight reflected from the screen of mobile devices, medics said.
Neither patient was given any treatment for their eye damage.
But within just two months of the incident, the male patient had made a full recovery.
For the female patient, some symptoms improved after five months.
However, she was left with the long term scotoma in her right eye.
The doctors said in their notes that solar maculopathy can get better on its own as the eye heals from the inside out.
However, if the sun has damaged a patient’s outer retinal — like in the case of the girl — they may be left with a blind spot in their vision.
What are the symptoms of solar retinopathy?
Solar retinopathy can occur in both eyes or only one eye. Milder symptoms may include:
- Eye soreness
- Sensitivity to light
- Watery eyes
More serious symptoms of solar retinopathy include:
- Changes in vision, such as blurry vision
- Partial or total loss of vision in one or both eyes
- Visualizing unnaturally coloured objects, or seeing normally colourless objects in colour
- Visualizing normally straight lines as curvy lines
- Pain in the eye