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Man’s retina detaches after texting girlfriend for hours in the dark

After texting his girlfriend for hours, 26-year-old man suffered a detached retina. The connection isn’t so simple.


EJ Dickson


Posted on Jun 4, 2014   Updated on May 31, 2021, 4:57 am CDT

A 26-year-old Chinese man was taken to the hospital after suffering a detached retina, which doctors claim was the result of spending hours texting his girlfriend in the dark on the app WeChat. 

The Want China Times reports that the 26-year-old, from the city of Qingdao in Shandong Province, China, had spent hours texting his girlfriend, both at work and at night in bed. When he began to experience sudden flashes in the corner of his eye, he went to the doctor, who promptly diagnosed him with retinal detachment. The man had to have emergency eye surgery to restore his vision.

While retinal detachment is usually a common problem among the elderly, the condition has been increasingly becoming more prevalent among young people thanks to excessive cellphone use, eye expert Yu Bin told the Want China Times.

But New York–based ophthalmologist Dr. Samuel L. Guillory says that the young man’s condition probably wasn’t caused by late-night texting. “There’s no proof that most devices we use, like computers and smartphones, cause damage to the retina,” he told me, adding that the man might have had an underlying condition that caused his symptoms. Although there are a number of conditions that are potentially triggered by excessive cellphone use, retina detachment “is not on the list.”

While numerous research studies have been devoted to the link between eye disorders and excessive cellphone use, Guillory says we don’t really know enough about it to say for sure. But we do know that smartphone users are vulnerable to computer vision syndrome, which can result in blurred vision or permanent nearsightedness. So the next time you’re texting your girlfriend panda emojis at 3am, it’s probably a good idea to put down the phone just to be safe. 

H/T Want China Times | Photo by timquijano/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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*First Published: Jun 4, 2014, 10:05 am CDT