Monday, 20 August, 2018

Chemists Discover How Blue Light Speeds Blindness

Blue light emitted from smartphones and other digital devices can accelerate blindness by transforming vital molecules in the eye's retina into cell killers a study has found Blue Light From Smartphone, Computer Displays Can Accelerate Blindness: Study
Anna Jefferson | 12 August, 2018, 19:28

The new study comes from a team of researchers at the University of Toledo in the U.S. who showed that a long term exposure to the blue light can raise the levels of certain poisonous molecules released within the light sensitive cells of the eyes leading to macular degeneration.

More generally this blue light can gradually cause lasting damage to the eyes due to the fact it works on a shorter wavelength and contains more energy than other coloured lights.

The researchers said molecules that we need to be able to see, called retinal, turn into cell killers when they interact with blue light. Further, they have also discovered that alpha tocopherol can prevent cell death caused by blue light and retinal. "Photoreceptors are useless without retinal, which is produced in the eye". "When they're dead, they're dead for good".

The process leads to age-related macular degeneration, or the death of photoreceptor cells in the retina.

Macular degeneration, which affects around 2.4% of the adult population in the United Kingdom, is a common condition among those in their 50s and 60s that results in significant vision loss.

The disease is the leading cause of blindness for those over 65, the CDC says, and it's expected that 88 million Americans will have it by 2050.

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The team introduced retinal molecules to other cell types in the body, such as cancer cells, heart cells and neurons to establish if it could kill other cell types.

Blue light alone or only retinal without blue light had no effect on cells, but a combination of blue light and retinal was toxic.

THE BLUE light emitted from smartphones, laptops and a wide variety of digital devices not only damages your vision but can actually speed up blindness. But as a person ages or the immune system is suppressed, the patients loses the ability to counteract the harmful combination.

"We are being exposed to blue light continuously, and the eye's cornea and lens can not block or reflect it", said Ajith Karunarathne, Assistant Professor, University of Toledo in Ohio, US. "Our experiments explain how this happens, and we hope this leads to therapies that slow macular degeneration, such as a new kind of eye drop", study co-author Ajith Karunarathne said.

Futurism noted that scientists already knew that blue light from screens "contributed" to blindness, but they didn't understand the mechanism behind why until now.

"Some cell phone companies are adding blue-light filters to the screens, and I think that is a good idea", said John Payton, visiting assistant professor at University of Toledo.

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