The Atlantic

When Televisions Were Radioactive

Anxieties about the effects of screens on human health are hardly new, but the way the public addresses the problems has changed. An Object Lesson.
Source: Bill Eppridge / Getty

On a recent morning, I indulged one of my worst habits—checking Twitter on my phone immediately upon waking up. When I turned the screen off, I was alarmed to discover that I could no longer see out of my right eye. I picked up my phone again, this time in a panic, to Google my symptoms, and quickly learned that I had experienced what medical researchers have called “transient smartphone blindness.” It can occur when you look at a bright screen while lying down with only one eye open. It’s one of many effects that constant engagement with screens could be having on our eyes, which together produce anxiety about the negative physical effects of contemporary technologies.

Before smartphones and handheld devices, that anxiety was directed at televisions. from watching its 3-D TVs—pregnant women and the elderly were advised not to watch 3-D sets at all.

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