Date
23 July 2017
Pokémon GO players can suffer from eye strain and other visual problems if they stare at the screen of their mobile device for a long time. Photo: Reuters
Pokémon GO players can suffer from eye strain and other visual problems if they stare at the screen of their mobile device for a long time. Photo: Reuters

Taiwan woman’s temporary blindness blamed on too much Pokémon GO

A 31-year-old pregnant woman in Taiwan has been diagnosed with temporary blindness, which her doctor blamed on her spending too much time on Pokémon GO.

New Taipei City Hospital ophthalmologist Chen Yu-an said the woman is suffering from macular degeneration, an eye disease caused by the deterioration of the central portion of the retina, a part of the eye that records images and sends them via the optic nerve to the brain, Apple Daily reports.

Her indulgence in the mobile virtual reality game has made her condition worse, leaving her right eye temporarily blind as a result, the newspaper said.

The doctor had suggested injections in the eyeball to inhibit blood congestion, but he said the patient refused the treatment because she feared it would affect her baby.

She now has to stay at home and take drugs instead.

Chen said another patient of his, a 40-year-old engineer, had a relapse of the inflammation of the iris because he just could not stop playing the popular game since it was launched in Taiwan on Aug. 6.

The doctor said he has seen the number of his patients increase by 20 percent over the past three weeks.

He said many of them, including young ones, sought medical help after experiencing vision problems, which could be traced to their having spent too much time staring at the screen of their mobile device to catch the game’s virtual monsters.

EZchoice, a local survey firm, said the number of Pokémon GO players in Taiwan has reached 7.9 million as of Aug. 20, which means one in three people on the island is playing the game.

The survey also found that players in Taiwan spend an average of 114 minutes every day playing the game, compared with 46 minutes in Japan, where there are more than 10 million Pokémon GO players.

The frenzy has led to serious traffic snarls and noise pollution in parts of the island deemed as “hotspots” for catching the virtual monsters.

Lee Ka-yau, a Hong Kong ophthalmologist, told Headline Daily that staring at the screen of a mobile phone for a long time could easily result in dryness and strain in the eyes or even “false myopia”, which is characterized by blurred vision.

To prevent eye strain and other visual problems, mobile game players should take a break and keep their eyes away from the screen of their mobile device for several minutes after every 30 minutes of playing, Lee said.

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TL/AC/CG

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