A new study is linking the blue light emitted by smartphone screens with blindness. Scientists behind the paper say they’ve discovered how the blue light negatively affects the eyes. The study by the University of Toledo in the US revealed that a prolonged exposure to the blue light can trigger a poisonous molecule found in the light-sensitive eye cells. The molecules then cause a condition called macular degeneration that affects the middle part of your vision.
The blue light has a shorter wavelength and more energy compared to other colors, which can gradually damage the eyes. According to Dr. Ajith Karunarathne, an assistant professor at the University of Toledo, people are continuously exposed to blue light and the cornea has no ability to reflect or block it. Dr. Karunarathne added there’s conclusive evidence showing that exposure to the light damages the retina. The experiment shows how this happens and wants to help develop new therapies to reverse or stop the muscular degeneration, including the development of specific eye drops to deal with the condition.
Macular degeneration is a common eye condition that normally affects people above the age of 50. Advanced stages of the disease can cause significant loss of vision. It seems, based on the new study, that exposure to this light simply accelerates the process. A condition that was normally associated with old age is now affecting younger people because of smartphones and other devices.
Muscular degeneration affects nearly 2.4% of the total population in the UK. Even more than this, the condition is ranked as the leading age-related cause of blindness in the US.
But what’s the science behind this?
The eye contains important light cells called photoreceptors. The cells, however, can’t work without unique retinal molecules designed to sense light as it enters the eye. The retinal molecules are responsible for sending the light signal to the brain in order for it to process the images we are seeing. The research by the University of Toledo says that exposure to blue light sets off a chain reaction on the retinal molecules. The process then releases toxic molecules that affect how the photoreceptor cells work. This significantly affects how light enters the eye leading to vision impairment.
Simply put, exposure to the blue light kills the photoreceptor cells. The sad part about all this is that, unlike other cells, photoreceptor cells can’t regenerate after they’re dead. If they die, they die for good. According to the scientists, there are a few solutions that can help deal with this issue.
For instance, people who spend a lot of time in front of blue light emitting devices should wear sunglasses that filter out UV light. The other obvious solution is to reduce the amount of time spent in front of the screen. This new research was published in the Scientific Reports journal a few days ago.