Non-stop texting causes a case of retinal detachment, says Chinese media

June 11, 2014

A 26-year-old man from Qingdao, China suffered a retinal detachment after using his smartphone non-stop, according to Qingdao Daily.

Qingdao, China-A 26-year-old man from Qingdao, China suffered a retinal detachment after using his smartphone non-stop, according to Qingdao Daily.

He had been using his cellphone constantly, both all day while at work and even in bed, when he began experiencing flashes. However, by the time he saw a doctor, the retina in his left eye had become detached.

While the Chinese media has blamed the retinal detachment on the incessant smartphone use, Optometry Times Editorial Advisory Board member Leo Semes, OD, FAAO, says that is probably not the case.

“The incidence of spontaneous retinal detachment is less than 0.00003 percent of the general population annually,” says Dr. Semes. “Identified risks for retinal detachment include high myopia, the presence of retinal breaks or lattice, and trauma-and to a lesser extent, increasing age and, for a specific type of retinal detachment, diabetic retinopathy. Posterior vitreous detachment is associated with an increased risk of retinal breaks. So, the likelihood of spontaneous RD seems unlikely.”

So, was the smartphone the culprit?

“Since we don't know the status of the patient's refractive correction or the presence of other risks, it would be tempting to speculate that the coincidence of prolonged texting and the occurrence retinal detachment are causally related,” says Dr. Semes. “Another factor to consider is that the patient may have had silent congenital retinal dialysis that with postural or accommodative changes may have precipitated a retinal detachment.

“All in all, this seems like a most unusual cause-and-effect relationship,” he says.