This story in the Daily Mail talks of a case where a newborn baby lost its eyesight due to the camera flash.

Doctors said the three-month-old, who has not been named, has suffered irreparable damage from the flash of the camera, which was held about 10 inches away from the baby boy.

Is this possible, or is it a coincidence?


1 Answer 1


Snopes lists it as unproven.


The Daily Mail pointed to the unreliable People’s Daily Online as the source of this information, who in turn sourced their story from Guangming Daily, who sourced their reporting from QQ.com, who cited DAHE.com, who got their information from Henan TV. At no point in this game of misinformation telephone did any of these sources provide specific details about the story, such as where the incident occurred, the names of the parents, the identities of the “experts” quoted, or the name of the hospital where the baby was treated.

Furthermore, none of the articles linked above provided any evidence (such as a quote from an ophthalmologist or other knowledgeable medical source) indicating that the baby’s alleged blindness was caused by a camera flash.

In fact, several reputable sources have stated that a camera flash is not harmful to a baby’s eyes. The Orange Regional Medical Center, for instance, encourages new parents to take photographs of their babies in the NICU:


Scary stuff, for sure, but highly unlikely, according to Dr. Alex Levin, chief of pediatric ophthalmology and ocular genetics at Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia. “If this story were true, there would be lots of blind babies out there,” the ophthalmologist tells Yahoo Parenting, calling the events detailed “inconceivable.”

“We operate on young babies and shine a very bright light directly on the most sensitive parts of their eyes for up to 30 minutes at a time, and even that doesn’t cause blindness,” says Levin. “Retinas are made to last, and it’s highly unlikely that this kind of light would cause damage.”

It’s more likely, the doctor surmises, that the infant was already blind in that eye and physicians discovered his condition when they examined him. “To attribute the blindness to the taking of a photograph would be incorrect,” Levin insists. “There’s no way that a camera can cause such damage.” Flashes are diffused light, he explains, “so they’re harmless.”

The same rule applies to flashlights and even super-bright sunlight. Staring directly at the sun, on the other hand, isn’t a good idea as far as protecting your vision, “but babies won’t intentionally fix their gaze on the sun anyway,” he says.

Checking the credentials listed on yahoo news: http://www.willseye.org/doctors/alex-v-levin

Dr. Alex Levin

"Speciality: Pediatric Ophthalmology & Ocular Genetics"

"Director, Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus Service"

  • 12
    Granted, it's not the kind of thing people would care to test for empirical evidence just in case the answer turns out to be "Yes, and what would you like to do with the two dozen blind infants from Test Group One?" Aug 7, 2015 at 11:56
  • 7
    @Shadur: "and how many more babies do you need to figure out what's different between the human infant retina and that of every other mammal we tried it on before doing humans, none of which were blinded?" Aug 7, 2015 at 15:52
  • 4
    "The Daily Mail pointed to the unreliable People’s Daily Online as the source" Because the Daily Mail is sooooo reliable when it's not pointing to the People's Daily as a source... Aug 7, 2015 at 22:58
  • 4
    "If this story were true, there would be lots of blind babies out there." But really. Incredible claims require incredible evidence. This is certainly an incredible claim, based on common experience with photography and babies. Aug 7, 2015 at 23:03
  • 3
    These sources are quite bad: snopes has no references and yahoo news is not a reliable source on medical matters. I am amazed about the bad voting here.
    – Sklivvz
    Aug 8, 2015 at 6:58

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