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The Unexpected Ways Your Cell Phone Could Harm You

By Lependorf & Silverstein on December 1, 2017

You know that you are more likely to be injured if you use your phone while driving or walking. In fact, the level of danger is probably worse than you think.

According to Huffington Post, one in four motor vehicle crashes involved a cell phone, and using a cell phone while driving makes a crash four times more likely. While the statistics for texting and walking may not be as extreme, studies have shown that people who use their phones while walking have slower reaction times and pay less attention to their surroundings. It makes sense—when you’re looking at your phone, you are not looking where you’re going. According to Healthline, an estimated 1,500 pedestrians were treated in emergency rooms in 2010 for injuries related to walking while using their cell phones.

Whether driving or walking, experts recommend that you pull off the road, or out from the stream of pedestrian traffic, in order to talk or text.

The Danger You Don’t Know

Unfortunately, cell phone use is affecting your overall health in more ways than you would think. Cell phone use can affect your thumbs, skin, ears, brain, ability to sleep, spine, relationships, and mental and emotional health, just to name a few. Some of these effects are preventable by changing the way or the timing in which you use your phone. Your sleep schedule, for example, can be salvaged by avoiding phone use before bed. Other effects are inevitable, like the effect on our brains. Decades of cell phone use has been associated with a possible increased risk of brain cancer. You would have to seriously reduce phone use in order to combat this (National Cancer Institute).

While it is virtually impossible to counteract all the negative effects of cell phone use, making small changes, like improving your posture when looking at your phone and reducing screen time when you are with friends and family, can help you feel better about the role your cell phone plays in your life. The stories below demonstrate how our increasing relationship with this technology can interfere with our health, even when we’re performing relatively “normal” cell phone activities.

Eye Discomfort from Galaxy S8

According to a Daily Mail report, Samsung Galaxy S8 smartphone users reported eye discomfort after using the device’s infrared iris scanner. The Galaxy S8’s eye scanner was designed to be an even easier way to unlock your device, compared to a passcode or thumbprint scan. Users were alarmed, however, when they experienced sharp pains and dizziness after using the scanner.

Although Samsung maintains that the infrared scanners were tested and are safe, studies have shown that the eye is very sensitive to infrared radiation and that exposure can lead to discomfort, and even cataracts.

In this case, slightly easier phone access may not be worth the possible side effects, especially to a part of the body as important as the eyes. While the research in this case appears to be conflicting, this is an example of a situation where a phone manufacturer could be liable for injury. This is why it is imperative for technology companies to do extensive research on new features before releasing them to the public.

Temporary Blindness from Smartphone Use

Another scary eye-related side effect reported by smartphone users involved temporary blindness. Around the same time, multiple women visited a doctor to report temporary blindness in one eye either at night or in the morning. The one thing these women had in common? They were using their smartphones in bed, and lying in a position that covered one eye while they read their screen with the other eye.

Because temporary blindness in one eye can be an indicator of a serious illness, like a small stroke, this phenomenon was very concerning to both doctors and patients. Luckily, doctors discovered that the eye that was exposed to the phone screen light had to adjust rapidly, causing temporary blindness while the retina adjusted. The solution was simple—adjust the person’s position so that neither eye was covered while looking at the smartphone.

When in Doubt, Leave It Out

An even better solution, however, is not using a smartphone in bed at all. These women were lucky that their blindness was temporary and easily remedied, but who yet knows what the long-term effects will be of all our cell phone use?

“All things in moderation”—it is a common saying for a reason. Limiting the amount of time you use your cell phone seems to keep most injuries in check. However, if you do suffer from an injury caused by your cell phone, a knowledgeable attorney can help determine if the phone manufacturer, an employer, or other party is liable.

Give us a call at Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C., if you have questions about any products that caused you injury. We can discuss your legal options with you for free. Call (609) 240-0040.

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