Camera flash could blind newborns: Study

Flash photography can blind newborn babies and direct sunlight has the potential to damage their vision, according to a medical expert.


She cited the recent case of a newborn Chinese boy who turned blind after a family friend took a close-up without turning off the flash.

Doctors said the three-month-old baby had suffered irreparable damage from the flash of the camera. The story went viral on social media.

“Light directly hitting the retina is dangerous regardless of one’s age. However, most people are unaware of the severity of this danger and its consequences.

I was fortunate to be interviewed on Sabah Al-Saudiah Radio Show in Riyadh and answer questions from listeners,” said Al-Suwailem. She added that exposure to stark lightning could damage the eyes of children and render them blind.

“Although flash photography uses the starkest of lighting, there are other sources of light that hits the eye directly and which is extremely dangerous. Video games, laptops, Gameboys, iPads and all these technologies send rays of light directly into the retinae,” said Al-Suwailem.

She advised photographers to depend on ambient and natural lighting as much as possible.

“Natural lightning is very soft and mild, whether it is the sunlight outdoors or lighting indoors. If the photographer had to use flash, he must make sure the flash will reflect on the wall and bounce back on the object,” said Al-Suwailem.

She also said the photographer should be at least 100 cm away from the subject of his photo.

“People standing in the frame should never fix their gazes directly on camera flashes. The same rules apply to any source of stark lighting such as the sun. People should also wear medical protection glasses to protect from ultraviolet rays by 80 to 100 percent,” said Al-Suwailem.

She added smart devices are not to be used for two hours before bedtime.

“The body needs to secrete the melatonin hormones that regulates our biological clock. When watching TV, people should sit at least six meters away from the screen and they should not watch TV in the dark. It is exhausting for the eye muscles,” said Al-Suwailem.

She also said portable devices such as smartphones and iPads should be held at least 30 cm away and the light from the screen should be directed away from the eyes.