Woman, 21, turns blind in one eye after playing mobile game for hours

Woman, 21, turns blind in one eye after playing mobile game for hours
PHOTO: Internet
W.T.M. Why This Matters
Digital screens from laptops, tablets and smartphones are 'robbing' the eyesight of many around the world, especially those who use it intensively over a long period and also in darkness.

If you know anyone who's constantly playing with their smartphone, you might want to get them to stop doing so.

A young woman in Dongguang, China, lost her vision in her right eye after playing an online mobile game on her smartphone for an entire day. 

According to Chinese media reports, 21-year-old Xiao Wu (not her real name) was said to have been playing a popular game called King of Glory before she reportedly went blind. The incident happened on their National Day Holiday on Oct 1. 

She was hospitalised at Donggiang Huaxia Eye Hospital the next day, where doctors diagnosed her with retinal artery occlusion, a painless loss of monocular vision. The condition normally occurs in elderly people and is irreversible, resulting in permanent loss of vision.

Maggie Hor, lecturer at School of Health Sciences at Nanyang Polytechnic, told AsiaOne that retinal artery occlusion happens when one of the small arteries carrying blood to the retina is blocked. 

It is an ophthalmologic emergency and patients should be examined as soon as possible, said Maggie.

According to the reports, Xiao Wu had invited a colleague to her house to play King of Glory, a multiplayer online battle game by Tencent Games. Her friends said that she was obsessed with the game and would play for seven to eight hours straight each day and even skipped sleep just so she could continue gaming.

When she picked up the phone after dinner to continue the game, she started to feel that something was not right in her right eye. After a sleepless night of fear and crying, she was rushed to the city for medical treatment the next morning.

Xiao Wu, who is self-employed, told reporters at the hospital that she would normally wake up at 6am and will start gaming after breakfast till around 4pm. She will then take a nap and continue playing till 1am or 2am.

Photo: news.yzz.cn

"Sometimes I lose track of time, I don't eat even when my parents ask me to," she said.

Her parents have tried to persuade her to put her phone down and even warned her of "going blind".

"Now I feel afraid and regret (for not listening to them)," said Xiao Wu.

The doctors who treated her at the hospital warned of excessive fatigue caused to eyes. Damage to eyes can occur from staring at a computer or smartphone screen for hours on end. 

OTHER INCIDENTS

There have been reported cases around the world of patients suffering from temporary smartphone blindness after using their smartphone while in bed and with the lights switched off. 

Also known as transient smartphone blindness, the condition occurs when one eye is adjusted to the brightness of the smartphone display, while the other stays accustomed to darkness, according to The New England Journal of Medicine.

In August last year, a 31-year-old Taiwanese woman suffered temporary vision loss in her right eye after playing Pokemon Go on her mobile phone for an extended period of time.

And in March last year, a young Chinese woman's eyesight was badly damaged after binge-watching a Korean drama on her tablet. She was diagnosed with acute glaucoma, a condition in which the buildup of pressure in the eyes can cause a person to become blind.

STOP LOOKING AND APPLY THIS 20-20-20 RULE

Early this year, experts warned of a global epidemic of blindness from hours spent staring at screens, particularly for millions of children who are exposed to digital screens at an early age.

So how often should you be facing a screen? Experts recommend a 20-20-20 rule: Turn your gaze 20 feet (6 metres) away for 20 seconds for every 20 minutes of staring at a digital screen.

According to Maggie, besides practising the 20-20-20 rule, workers who face the laptop the whole day can use artificial tears to relieve dry eyes caused by reduced frequency of blinking. Looking into the distance also helps to relax the eye.

Got it? Good. Now, look away.

klim@sph.com.sg

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