Can a camera flash harm your baby’s eyes?

A recent story from China suggests that a baby was blinded by a camera flash but is that really possible?

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A 3-month-old baby was blinded in one eye by a camera flash – or so the People’s Daily, the Chinese official state newspaper, reported.

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According to the report, taking a picture of the baby at close range had caused permanent blindness in his right eye and a loss of vision in his left. And, wheat’s more, the flash had caused “irreversible damage” to the delicate macula of the baby’s eye.

At MadeForMums, we were really concerned when we heard this, and decided to investigate. Could a flash – from a regular camera or a camera phone – really damage a baby’s sight? 

“I really don’t think we’ve got anything to worry about at all,” says Clare Wilson, Pediatric Ophthalmologist at the London Eye Hospital. “I have not heard of, or seen in medical metrics, that any baby that has been blinded by the light of a camera.

“That is not to say it’s impossible, but I think, in countries where cameras and flashlights are being correctly used and validated for their intensity and exposure, there’s nothing to worry about.”

OK, so a camera flash won’t blind your baby but can it harm his or her eyes in any other way?

“I can’t really comment on what happened in China,” says Clare, “but really what we’re talking about with the light of a camera – as a lot of people will know – is just having a bright light shone in their eyes. You do get bleaching of your eye when this happens, and then things go dark afterwards for a few seconds – that’s really nothing to worry about long-term whatsoever.“

Well, that’s a relief. Full permission to take a few snaps with the flash on – but bear in mind that, though it may not damage your baby’s eyes, too much flashing will probably cause some ear-splitting reaction from the lungs!

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