Tuesday, 25 September, 2018

Study claims blue light from screens can accelerate blindness

Cropped Image Of Person Using Phone At Night Using phones and tablets in the dark can speed up blindness. Alexey Dulin EyeEm
Anna Jefferson | 14 August, 2018, 03:53

Researchers at the University of Toledo have found that blue-light exposure - the glow emitted from most smartphones, tablets and laptops - promotes the growth of "poisonous molecules" in your eyes, leading to macular degeneration. Around one in seven people over 50 have some signs of the disease and there is no known cure.

Researchers then tested how damaging the retinal cells absorbed with blue light when they were injected into other cells such as cancer cells and heart cells, which resulted in those cells dying as well.

Scientists add blue light is particularly damaging because it has a shorter wavelength and more energy and our eyes can not block it. A new study conducted by the optical chemistry research division at The University of Toledo sheds light on the situation. Blue light exposure causes retinal to trigger reactions that generate poisonous chemical molecules in those all-important photoreceptor cells. The light can actually cause photoreceptor cells to die - and they don't grow back.

"Photoreceptor cells do not regenerate in the eye", says Kasun Ratnayake, a Ph.D. student who worked on the study.

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"You need a continuous supply of retinal molecules if you want to see", Karunarathne said.

In the meantime, the researchers recommend preventative measures, including wearing sunglasses that filter UV and blue light, and avoiding reading mobile devices in the dark, which causes additional strain on delicate photoreceptors.

The research, published in the journal Scientific Reports, follows recent figures that revealed the average person in the United Kingdom spends more than a day a week online using digital devices. There are also special filtered glasses, screen protectors, and other products that claim to block blue light, but the only sure-fire way to save yourself would be to stare at this and all of your other screens a little less, especially in the dark.

Ofcom, which compiled the report, attributes a large part of the surge in time online to the rise of smartphones, which are now used by 78 per cent of the population compared with just 17 per cent in 2008, the year after the first iPhone was launched.

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