Blue light from phones, laptops quickens blindness

BY JOSEPH SCALISE
Posted on FEB 13, 2019

Researchers have discovered that the blue light from common electronic devices severely damages the eyes over time.

The blue light from laptop and cell phone screens may speed up blindness, according to a new study published in Scientific Reports.

Everyone looks at screens in today's world, but little research has been done on how such screen time affects the body.
In the new study, researchers from the University of Toledo found that long-term exposure to screen light triggers a reaction in the eye's light-sensitive cells that speeds up a common condition known as macular degeneration -- which causes blurred or no vision in the center of the eye's visual field.

Such degeneration occurs when photoreceptor cells in the retina die. It typically comes about between the ages of 50 and 60 and it is the leading cause of vision loss in the United States.

The reason screens trigger the condition is because they create a reaction inside the retina that generates poisonous chemical molecules that kill off photoreceptor cells.

"It's toxic," said lead author Kasun Ratnayake, a researcher at The University of Toledo, according to Newsweek. "This is particularly troubling because photoreceptor cells do not regenerate in the eye. When they're dead, they're dead for good."

While a molecule known as alpha tocophero can help stop that destruction, the body loses the ability to fight as it ages.

That is cause for concern, but there is good news. Some companies have taken steps to add light filters to their devices and people who want to protect their eyes can wear sunglasses while using devices as well.

To better understand the interaction between blue light and the human body, the team next plants to measure light television, cell phone, and tablet screens. They hopea broader analysiswill lead to more effective therapies down the line.

"This is a new trend of looking at our devices," said study co-author Ajith Karunarathne, achemistry professor at the University of Toledo, according to Popular Science "It will take some time to see if and how much damage these devices can cause over time. When this new generation gets older, the question is, by that time, is the damage done?"