According to a new study, blue light emitted from smartphones, tablets, and other similar gadgets with backlights can speed up the process of blindness.
Researchers from the University of Toledo claim spending long periods of time staring at screens, especially in close range, will damage vision and produce poisonous chemicals in the eye’s light-sensitive cells. This in turn, the researchers claim, could accelerate macular degeneration and other eye illnesses.
Blue Light Might Make You Blind
The study, which was published last month in Scientific Reports, involved exposing living cells to various types of light. The researchers discovered that exposure to blue light results in “reactions that generate poisonous chemical molecules in photoreceptor cells,” which are the cells in the retina that react to light.
“If you look at the amount of light coming out of your cell phone, it’s not great but it seems tolerable,” according to John Payton, one of the researchers and a visiting assistant professor at the University of Toledo’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. “Some cell phone companies are adding blue-light filters to the screens, and I think that is a good idea.”
Blue Light Filters On Phones
Indeed, both Apple and Android offer blue light filters that toggle on during nighttime, reducing the amount of blue light to avoid severe eye strain. A number of third-party apps that perform the same function are also available for both desktop and smartphones.
For protection against blue light, Ajith Karunarathne, assistant professor in the aforementioned department and one of the researchers in the study, suggests wearing sunglasses that can filter both ultraviolet and blue light outside, and avoid looking at smartphones at night.
“Every year more than two million new cases of age-related macular degeneration are reported in the United States,” according to Karunarathne. “By learning more about the mechanisms of blindness in search of a method to intercept toxic reactions caused by the combination of retinal and blue light, we hope to find a way to protect the vision of children growing up in a high-tech world.”
Macular degeneration remains the top cause of vision loss and can eventually lead to total blindness. There’s a Vitamin E molecule called alpha tocopherol that tries to fend off such cell deaths, but it doesn’t have the same fighting power as people age or if their immune systems are compromised. In the meantime, make sure to follow Karunarathne’s advise and try to wear special glasses that can prevent blue light from messing with the retina.