Blue light from phones and tablets can speed up blindness, study finds

Aug. 13, 2018

Blue light from your smartphones and laptops can accelerate blindness, according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of Toledo say long periods of time exposed to blue light, the kind phones, tablets, and televisions give off, can damage vision and generate poisonous molecules in the eye’s light-sensitive cells. The researchers suggest this could accelerate macular degeneration and other eye diseases.

Their findings were published on July 5 in Scientific Reports.

In the study, the researchers exposed living cells to various types of light. They found that exposure to blue light triggers “reactions that generate poisonous chemical molecules in photoreceptor cells,” the cells in our retina that respond to light.  The group was aiming to understand how cells respond to everyday blue light exposure from devices like phones and TVs, according to a release.

Eye disease such as macular degeneration is caused by the deterioration of light-sensitive cells in the retina. This disease is age-related and can cause blindness. Currently, 11 million people in the U.S. have some sort of macular degeneration, according to a report published on Brightfocus Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports research. The patient number will likely double by 2050.

Dr. Ajith Karunarathne, one of the researchers and an assistant professor at the University of Toledo, told the Guardian that people should wear sunglasses that can filter both UV and blue light outside and avoid browsing on smartphones, laptops, and similar gadgets in the dark.

Some other options to protect your eyes include wearing glasses with amber or orange-colored lenses that can block out blue light.

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