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. 


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.


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.

Innocent habits that are harming your eyesight

  • You can exercise and eat your way to better vision naturally.
  • UV rays not only harms your skin, but your eyes too. Extended exposure to the sun's UV rays has been linked to eye issues like cataracts and macular degeneration.
  • Eat foods high in vitamins A, C and E, antioxidants and minerals like copper and zinc. These include dark leafy greens, carrots and sweet potatoes.
  • A smoker is twice as likely to develop macular degeneration and two to three times more likely to develop cataracts compared with a non-smoker.
  • Take a break from staring at the computer every 20 minutes. Look at a point at least 6m for at least 20 seconds. Remember: checking your phone for messages is not considered taking a break.
  • Hold a pen or pencil at arm's length and focus on it. Keep your eyes on the pen as you slowly bring it closer, until it's about 6 inches away from your nose, then move it back. Repeat 10 times.
  • Look up as far as you can without straining. Then, look down. Repeat 10 times. Then look to your left, then right, and repeating 10 times. After that, look in each diagonal direction, then roll your eyes in a counter-clockwise direction 10 times. Repeat in a clockwise direction.
  • Aim for eight hours of sleep every night. This not only gives your body ample time to rejuvenate itself, it helps your eye health too.
  • Ensure that the prescription is appropriate for close computer work. Glasses or contact lenses that are not of the correct power will cause your eyes to tire easily.
  • Proper lighting can help to achieve maximum comfort and, if you are at work, productivity. When in the office, for instance, try to angle your monitor away from light sources and windows so that there is no light reflecting off the screen. This can cause visual disturbances, such as glare and difficulty in seeing words on the computer screen.
  • Toggle the display settings of your computer or mobile device so as to achieve a similar level of brightness as your surroundings. As a guide, if you cannot read the words well, the screen may be too dim, while a screen that is too bright will feel glaring to your eyes.
  • Your eyes will become drier the longer you spend looking at the screen. A strong draught from air-conditioning also tends to aggravate this problem.
  • Take frequent breaks from the screen to prevent headaches, blurry vision and dry eyes. Look away or close your eyes every half an hour.
  • This will help to reduce eye strain. Increasing the point size of the font may also improve your reading experience. This is helpful if you are reading long documents or have to spend hours editing on your computer or mobile device.
  • Wearing such lenses for a prolonged period of time, coupled with inadequate cleaning of the lenses, can lead to a variety of eye infections. Some infections may even cause blindness. Contact-lens use will dry your eyes out over time.
  • If you are expecting a long day in front of the computer, for example, wear glasses in place of contact lenses when your eyes become too dry.
  • Going for eyecare examinations, either by an optometrist or ophthalmologist, will ensure that you still have the appropriate prescription for your glasses or lenses.
  • A doctor can also prescribe the appropriate treatment if your eyes are found to be too dry.
  • Constant texting, e-mailing and reading online can affect our eyes.
  • In adults, eye strain alone won't cause you to become short-sighted as the eyes are already fully developed.
  • Long-term eye strain can affect the quality of vision - things may look blurred, and we may feel throbbing pain around our eyes.
  • If your eyes smart, you may be applying the cream too close to the eyelid, allowing it to enter your eyes. If you get a rash, itch, or redness on the skin around the eyes, wash your eyes at once.
  • Spending all our time in an air-conditioned environment will not have an effect on our eyesight, although it can make dry eyes feel worse.
  • Dry eyes are a common problem. When we're using computers and handheld devices, we blink less, focus on one small area, and don't take enough breaks.
  • That can reduce the amount of tears we produce - and it's a problem, because tears moisturise our eyes.
  • You can use eye drops for relief, as they act as artificial tears. But it's best to change your habits
  • Don't use gadgets in your darkened bedroom at night
  • Watching television in the dark is not as bad, because we usually do it from a distance.
  • Lasik surgery is done to correct myopia or astigmatism, and is generally safe.
  • But it may have side effects, the most common being dry eyes, which usually goes away within a month.
  • We spend almost all our time under artificial light - at the office, in malls, and even at home.
  • Contrary to popular belief, long-term exposure to artificial lighting has no impact on your eyes.