A photograph purportedly showing a man who was diagnosed with eye cancer after using his cell phone too much at night was widely circulated by conspiracy, humor, and “health” web sites in March 2016. Most of these web sites shared the photo along with clickbait headlines such as “MAN DIAGNOSED WITH EYE CANCER BECAUSE OF DOING THIS AT NIGHT!” and a short paragraph (in stilted English) implying that the pictured case of alleged eye cancer was caused by cell phone use:
This unnamed 40-year-old man visited the doctor when he couldn’t see clearly, albumen turned red because of serious injuries. Whereby, he always use mobile phone for 30 minutes in the dark before going to sleep. It was prolonged, made his macular’s eye degraded, lead to impaired vision and signs of eye cancer.
This photograph, however, does not show a man suffering from eye cancer. More specifically, the image does not show a man who was diagnosed with eye cancer caused by his using his cell phone too much at night:
This photograph dates to at least 2013, when it was uploaded to Sinophoto.com as an example of conjunctivitis (more commonly known as “pinkeye”), a condition marked by redness and swelling of the mucous membrane that lines the eyelid and eye surface.
Although the original posting of the photograph made no mention of cell phones or cancer, the image was soon picked up by Chinese-language social media sites and shared along with the baseless claim that the man’s pinkeye was actually a case of cancer caused by cell phone use:
The American Cancer Society, the U.S. National Library of Medicine, and the American Society of Clinical Oncology have not issued any warnings concerning a connection between cell phone use (at night or otherwise) and eye cancer.