Blue light from phones, tablets may fast-track blindness

Blue light emitted from smartphones and other digital devices can accelerate blindness by transforming vital molecules in the eye's retina into cell killers a study has found

A new study by the Toledo University in OH found that blue light from digital devices triggers the production of a toxic chemical that kills light-sensitive cells in our eyes.

A new study from the University of Toledo has revealed how blue light from smart devices and screens is damaging our eyes.

The blue light tablets, smartphones, and laptops emit is so bright we can see our screens on a sunny day.

It kills photoreceptor cells, which do not regenerate. They're hopeful that their research could lead to a treatment, such as eyedrops, that can slow macular degeneration. "When they're dead, they're dead for good".

Caused by the death of light-sensitive cells in the retina, while it doesn't result in total blindness the condition can make things like reading and recognising faces hard. The recently published study found that when exposed to blue light retinal can turn against the body, generating the types of chemicals that destroy photoreceptor cells. When combined with neurons and cancer cells, retinal that had been exposed to blue light killed them all - suggesting it could do the same to those found in the human eye. Those cells need molecules called retinal to sense light and trigger a cascade of signaling to the brain.

Now, thanks to a team of researchers from the University of Toledo, we know how blue light causes this damage, meaning we might also be on track to preventing it. Instead, he said, it's just blue light, which "can kill any cell type". When exposed to blue light, these cell types died as a result of the combination with retinal. "No activity is sparked with green, yellow or red light", Karunarathne said.

"That is when the real damage occurs", Karunarathne said.The lab now is measuring light coming from television, cell phone and tablet screens to get a better understanding of how the cells in the eyes respond to everyday blue light exposure.

The scientists found that a molecule called alpha tocopherol, a natural antioxidant found in the eye and body, stops the cells from dying but fails to offer any protection to the ageing population or those whose immune systems have been suppressed.

"If you look at the amount of light coming out of your cell phone, it's not great but it seems tolerable", Dr.in the UT Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, said.

Special sunglasses that filter blue light might hep, but specialists are undecided about how much good they actually do.

As more research is needed, those involved in the study say to avoid looking at screens at night - and that scientists should look into developing an eye drop that could perhaps ward off some of the damage caused by the ubiquity of screens with blue light, WTOL reported.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in the United States and while it does not cause total blindness, AMD can make everyday activities such as reading and recognising faces hard.

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