Danger! Protracted Cellphone Use
A 13-year-old girl recently visited the Ophthalmology Clinic at Schneider Children’s suffering from a severe isotropic squint causing one of her eyes to point inwards. The squint appeared suddenly in the summer after many hours of uninterrupted use of a mobile phone, without giving the eyes sufficient time to rest.
The youngster underwent broad eye and neurological testing including brain imaging to rule out any neurological disorder for the appearance of the suddent squint. All the tests were normal leading to the conclusion that the cause was due to the extended use of the cellphone.
This is a relatively rare side-effect of mobile phone use, although in recent years the number of reports have increased about the connection between sight and prolonged use of digital screens, mostly cellphones, and the appearance of a squint. This leads mainly to double vision, limiting function and causing significant cosmetic effects with difficulties in maintaining eye contact. The presumed mechanism is a break in brain integration responsible for sight and coordination between the two eyes, and linked also to protracted contraction of the internal muscle responsible for eye movement towards the nose as part of the physiological mechanism of looking at close objects.
Dr. Gad Dotan, Director of Ophthalmology, noted that “this is an unfortunate event that underscores the danger of intense cellphone use. In this case, non-use of the cellphone did not dismiss the squint and the child will more than likely need an operation to correct the condition. Use of cellphones should be limited in order to reduce the danger of developing a squint, while allowing the eyes enough time to rest.”