No, an Indonesian teen did not rupture blood vessels in his eyes from excessive smartphone use

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An online article said an Indonesian teenager ruptured the blood vessels in his eyes due to excessive mobile phone use. A Jakarta hospital acknowledged treating the boy’s eye condition, but said it was not caused by staring at his smartphone for too long. An ophthalmologist also said the relatively common condition is not caused by gadget use.

On July 9, 2018, website published an article with a headline in Indonesian that read: “A 15-year-old teenager ruptures blood vessels in his eyes allegedly because of too much smartphone use. His story has gone viral!”

The article quoted an Instagram account that claimed the injury was from smartphone use.

It also posted a picture it said was of the teen with large red blotches on the whites of his eyes and a breathing tube in his nose.

The injury claim and picture have been shared thousands of times at least by multiple Facebook pages, two of which specialise in distributing health-related information.

A Facebook page called “Dokter Keluarga” (Family Doctor) said in a post on July 8, 2018 that the teen was a patient at Dr. Mintohardjo Naval Hospital in Jakarta. An English translation of the post, shared more than 1,000 times, reads: “(BEWARE)… A patient of Mintohardjo Naval Hospital aged 15 has his eye blood vessels broken due to excessive gadget use. He also frequently uses a mobile phone while lying on bed for hours.”

The hospital’s director, Wiweka, told AFP the person in the image was a patient released on July 5, 2018.

But the teen was hospitalised for health problems including hypertension, which caused him to suffer from subconjunctival bleeding, or a burst blood vessel, said Wiweka, who like many Indonesian goes by one name.

“It’s not because of using gadgets,” he said.

Ferdiriva Hamzah, one of Indonesia’s top ophthalmologists, also said smartphones did not cause the type of bleeding shown in the widely shared image.

“The claim saying bleeding in eyes is caused by gadget use is exaggerated,” Hamzah said.

Excessive gadget use can result in tired or dry eyes and may cause changes in the quality of a child’s eyesight, said Hamzah, who debunked the claim to his own 66,000 followers on Twitter.