We’ve all become a little photo fanatic with our smartphones. We snap selfies, pics of our food, our #OOTD — pretty much anything and everything we encounter during the day. The worst part is that most people take bad photos. Really bad photos. The reason, quite often, is because people leave the flash on (just keep it turned off). But leaving your flash on can do more than just ruin a picture — it can permanently damage the eyesight of infants.
A baby in China was recently left fully blind in one eye and partially blind in the other when a family friend snapped a picture from about a foot away. The baby couldn’t react in time and the bright light from the flash entered the eye and damaged the macula, the area of the eye where light is focused.
And it’s not just flashes: Doctors warn that very bright lights in general can lead to vision damage in kids younger than four. We asked Dr. Christopher Asandra to clarify:
“Everyone knows that babies have sensitive skin, but they’re sensitive in many other ways as well. It’s a good idea to protect them from exposure to anything extreme, including very loud noises and very bright lights.
Given how bright the flash on our phones and cameras can be, it’s best to keep them several feet (or about one meter) away when taking pictures of small babies, just to be safe.”
People have been aware that bright lights can damage the eyes of infants for a long time but now, with the recent explosion of cell phone use, everyone is a photographer. And unlike photographers who used to use old SLRs, most people today don’t know their equipment very well.
If you’re visiting a newborn soon, or have recently become a parent, make sure that cell phone flashes are turned off.