Laptops, phones, tablets – we all spend a huge portion of our lives staring at these screens to message our friends, catch up on news, read books and work. We think they are safe, but what if the screen light is actually harmful to our eye sight? Well a new study by scientists at the University of Toledo in Ohio, America has discovered that the blue light from these devices can damage our eyes. Frightening stuff. The study showed that this particular type of light can cause the photoreceptor cells in the retina to die, otherwise known as macular degeneration which leads to blindness.
Speaking to the University of Toledo's news site, Dr. Ajith Karunarathne, assistant professor in the UT Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, said: "We are being exposed to blue light continuously, and the eye’s cornea and lens cannot block or reflect it. It’s no secret that blue light harms our vision by damaging the eye’s retina. 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.”
To see, we need a constant amount of retinal which is produced within the eye. However, the scientists discovered that exposure to blue light on screens such as mobile phones causes retinal to set off reactions that 'generate poisonous chemical molecules in photoreceptor cells'. Essentially, the blue light makes the retinal kill the photoreceptor cells that we need for sight and even more worrying, the cells never regenerate.
There is some hope though. Researchers have discovered that the molecule 'alpha tocopherol' which is derived from vitamin E, can prevent the death of the cells. Dr John Payton, a visiting assistant professor in the UT Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, told the university website: "If you look at the amount of light coming out of your cell phone, it’s not great but it seems tolerable. Some cell phone companies are adding blue-light filters to the screens, and I think that is a good idea.”
Dr. Ajith Karunarathne has some further advice to shield our eyes from blue light. He suggests wearing sunglasses to filter UV and blue light outside and try not to look at screens in the dark.
We are so doing this now.
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