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Study claims blue light from screens can accelerate blindness

14 August 2018

Blue light from devices such as smartphones and computers can cause irreversible damage to the eyes, a study in the United States has found. According to a new study, prolonged exposure to blue light might speed up macular degeneration and lead to blindness.

"It's toxic. If you shine blue light on retinal, the retinal kills photoreceptor cells as the signaling molecule on the membrane dissolves", said Kasun Ratnayake, a Ph.D. student researcher working in Karunarathne's cellular photo chemistry group.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss for those age 50 or older, according to the National Eye Institute.

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Sufferers will experience blurred vision or even "blind spots" in their central vision that may grow larger as the retina dies.

That number is expected to increase as the proportion of the USA population age 65 or older continues to grow.

The UT researchers are now measuring light coming from televisions, handphones and table screens to better understand how cells in the eyes respond to everyday blue light exposure. "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", he said. In order to see, you need a continuous supply of retinal molecules, otherwise your photoreceptors are essentially useless.

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Blue light is scientifically defined as short wavelength light belonging to the 400 to 495 nanometer range in the visible light spectrum, containing high amounts of energy.

He added that there was no activity when retinal was exposed to other light colors such as green, red or yellow. It's no secret that scientists have studied the negative effects digital screens have our eyes, but a new study is revealing how it happens, so maybe we can try to stop it. The biggest step is to simply not use screens without being in a well-lit room, but many phones and tablets are now coming with night modes and blue light filters that help out here, so be sure to use those features and crank the settings up.

'Looking at cell phones in the dark can be very harmful because the pupils are dilated so more blue light can get in and cause damage, ' he said.

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Study claims blue light from screens can accelerate blindness