Fact Check

Blinded by the Light

Published July 28, 2015


FACT CHECK:   Was a newborn baby blinded by a camera flash?

Claim:   A newborn baby was blinded by a camera flash.


Example:     [Collected via e-mail, July 2015]

Three-month-old baby left BLIND in one eye after family friend forgot to turn off the camera flash while taking a photo close up. Is this real?

Origins:    On 28 July 2015, the Daily Mail (a source not known for letting a lack of facts interfere with their "news" reporting) published an article stating that a three-month old Chinese baby had been permanently blinded by a camera flash:

A baby is left blind in one eye after a family friend forgot to turn off the flash while taking a close-up photograph.

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.

The parents noticed that there was something wrong with their baby's vision soon after the photograph was taken.

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:

We encourage you to take pictures of your baby. Flash cameras are allowed and will not harm your baby.

Last updated:      28 July 2015

Originally published:    28 July 2015

Dan Evon is a former writer for Snopes.

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