For nine months of pregnancy, the thought of something going wrong in the womb crosses every mother’s mind from time to time. What the parents of a 3-month-old infant boy didn’t consider was something that would harm their baby after inviting adoring relatives over to meet the newest member of the family.
The new parents had just enjoyed an afternoon of introducing their infant to other family members when they noticed there was something wrong with their unnamed boy’s eyes. He struggled to open them.
Concerned for this unexpected reaction, the parents rushed him to his pediatrician, who delivered some unfortunate news that no parent wants to hear about their brand new baby. The infant had allegedly suffered irreparable damage to both eyes, rendering him blind in his right eye and suffering reduced vision in the left eye. The cause was traced back to one simple act that everyone does — taking a photo of the baby.
According to the family, the relative had gotten too close to the infant with the camera and also forgot to turn the flash off. The baby’s eyes almost instantly reacted to the bright light after his close up, when the picture was taken about 10 inches from his little face.
Although this incident happened in China, the warning is relevant for all parents, friends, and relatives everywhere, since picture-taking is a more common practice than ever with the convenience of cameras with flashes on cellphones.
A study has shown that LED lights, like the kind used in a camera flash, have potential to cause damage to the human eye, according to Live Science, which quotes Dr. Celia Sánchez-Ramos, who explained, “Eyes are not designed to look directly at light — they are designed to see with light.”
Live Science adds, “Her comments are based in part on a 2012 study she co-authored, published in the journal Photochemistry and Photobiology. That study found that LED radiation caused significant damage to human retinal pigment epithelial cells in vitro.”
According to the claim, the doctor informed the new parents that the fast, intense flash had “damaged cells on the macula, which is the part of the eye where incoming light rays are focused,” the Daily Mail reported.
“Damage to the macula can lead to the loss of central vision, which allows people to see straight ahead,” the source further explains, adding, “The macula is not fully developed until children are four, meaning youngsters are very sensitive to strong light.”
“Experts have said that while babies will shut their eyes when exposed to light on reflex, just milliseconds of strong light can cause permanent damage,” Daily Mail further explained. Sadly, the harm was reportedly done to this infant in that instant, and it could not be remedied with surgery or treatment. Their little boy would forever suffer the consequences of a common oversight while snapping a picture.
However, according to Inquisitr, “The baby’s injury has sparked quite a debate as many readers argue that the dangers of flash photography aren’t exactly supported by factual research. Although permanent eye damage from flash photography may be considered a rare occurrence, a number of health experts argue that it is possible.”
Just like with every part of a new baby’s body, the eyes are especially fragile and easily harmed through even the simplest means. Physicians warn that bright vanity lights in the bathroom can hurt an infant’s eyes if they glance at it for a split second while taking bath. Although this is a rare occurrence, it’s important to be aware of the risk and either replace vanity bulbs with a dimmer wattage or face the baby in a different direction.
There is no shortage of safety concerns for parents of children of all ages, especially infants. The exceptionally rare blinding accident with this 3-month-old was completely avoidable. Whether you believe the claim or not, nobody needs to hold a camera that close to a baby’s face — or anyone’s face for that matter.
There is a “zoom” feature for close-up shots, and it should have been double checked that the flash was switched off. It’s cases like this that make new parents want to limit visitors, or at least just the careless ones, until the baby ages beyond an exceptionally fragile stage.