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Tired Brain, Blindness and Horns on the Head - Side Effects of Smartphones
Tired Brain, Blindness and Horns on the Head - Side Effects of Smartphones

Periodic vision loss due to frequent smartphone use was first diagnosed in a British patient three years ago. Later, experts explained how exactly gadgets could provoke blindness. Hanging on the phone is fraught with other serious consequences for the body.

Dazzle in one eye

In the winter of 2016, in the UK, two women at once went to doctors with complaints of periodic loss of vision. The patients lived in different parts of the country, but their symptoms were the same. In both cases, vision was lost only in one eye and for a maximum of 15 minutes, but this happened almost daily. Eye exams, including retinal optical coherence tomography, head MRI, and blood tests for vitamin A levels, showed nothing. In all respects, the patients were absolutely healthy.

It turned out that both women each night read for a long time from the smartphone screen, lying on their side in the dark. In this case, one eye was covered with a pillow. Researchers at the City University of London, interested in these cases, suggested that the cause of blindness is asymmetric light adaptation. In other words, one eye adapts to the abrupt transition from darkness to light, while the other does not.

Experiments, during which volunteers looked at a smartphone with only one eye for a long time, confirmed the scientists' guesses. It turned out that the sensitivity of the retina aimed at the phone screen was significantly reduced, and it took several minutes to recover. The authors of the work noted that such one-sided blindness is not as harmless as it might seem at first glance, and when using a smartphone it is better to look at the display with both eyes.

Death of cells

According to researchers from the University of Toledo (USA), blue light, typical for smartphones and computers, has a negative effect on vision. With prolonged exposure, it is several times more dangerous to the retina than the rest of the visible spectrum.

Hanging on your smartphone for a long time every day, especially in the dark, can lead to age-related macular degeneration. With this disease, millions of cones and rods die in the central part of the retina - the macula. At first, straight lines begin to appear wavy to a person, then, when reading, some letters become invisible, and then patients stop seeing objects they are looking at. At the same time, peripheral vision can be preserved.


Light spectrum. Blue light is most dangerous to the human eye

Complex chromophore proteins present in the retina are most likely to blame for the death of cones and rods. Their job is to help photoreceptor cells sense light and send signals to the brain. Some of them (retinal A, for example), when exposed to blue radiation, become toxic to the surrounding tissues and cells. When scientists in the laboratory combined retinal A with various types of human cells, and then shone blue light on it, it killed those cells. In the absence of blue light, proteins posed no danger to cells.


In addition to cones and rods, the macula contains a chromophore that helps photoreceptor cells sense light and send signals to the brain. When exposed to blue light, it becomes toxic to surrounding cells

Horns on the back of the head

According to several works of Australian scientists, smartphones stimulate the growth of certain bones of the skull.We are talking about horn-shaped spines - bony growths on the back of the skull, formed due to too frequent tilting of the head.

The fact is that most people, using a smartphone, involuntarily tilt their head forward - closer to the screen. This transfers body weight from the spine to the muscles in the back of the head. As a result, bone begins to grow in the tendons and ligaments - a horn-shaped thorn. Normally, it should not exceed three millimeters. But in almost 41 percent of volunteers under the age of 30 (in total, 1200 people were examined within the framework of the study, of which 300 were between the ages of 18 and 30), its size is from ten to 31 millimeters. And more often these "horns" were found in men.

Previously, such bone growths were characteristic mainly of the elderly, who were engaged in hard physical work for most of their lives. They were usually accompanied by chronic headaches and discomfort in the neck and spine. The horn-shaped spines found in young volunteers did not give them any discomfort. And in older age groups, these bone growths were much less common.

Additional studies have shown that horny spines are the result of increased stress on the muscles of the cervicocranial region, and not a genetic disease or the consequences of previous injuries. Given the age of the owners of horns, the only option in which they would have to often and for a long time keep their head slightly tilted forward is to use smartphones, scientists suggest.


Bone build-up on the lower part of the skull that has arisen in a patient due to frequent use of a smartphone

Tired brain

According to a study by researchers at Rutgers University (USA), smartphones have a bad effect on brain activity. If you spend a work break with a mobile device, your brain will not rest, and the productivity of its further work will only worsen.

The researchers asked 414 students to solve 20 problems. Several hours were allotted for this, during which one could take one break. They were allowed to spend their free time with a telephone, computer or notebooks. You could also opt out of the break.

The volunteers who were resting with smartphones in their hands did the worst with the work. On average, it took them 19 percent longer to complete tasks that were not completed before the break. At the same time, they solved 20 percent fewer puzzles than the rest of the study participants, and at the end of the experiment they felt the most tired.

However, it is too early to talk about dependence on smartphones (like drugs or gaming), the researchers say. This means that the negative impact of gadgets on the body can be regulated. The main thing is to use them wisely.

Alfiya Enikeeva

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