Tuesday, 23 April, 2019

Blue light from smartphones may accelerate 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 Blue Light From Smartphone, Computer Displays Can Accelerate Blindness: Study
Gustavo Carr | 12 August, 2018, 19:26

"We are being exposed to blue light continuously, and the eye's cornea and lens can not block or reflect it", said Ajith Karunarathne, assistant professor in the UT Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and one of the authors of the study.

A new study has shown how blue light can cause macular degeneration - one of the leading causes of blindness.

"We are being exposed to blue light continuously, and the eye's cornea and lens can not block or reflect it", says Ajith Karunarathne, one of the researchers on the new study.

They found that exposing the eye to blue light causes a reaction which leads an essential light-sensitive protein in the retina, known as retinal, to generate poisonous molecules in photoreceptor cells, resulting in their death. Further, they have also discovered that alpha tocopherol can prevent cell death caused by blue light and retinal.

From cellphones to laptops to tablets, screens are all around us - and for many, it's hard to look away.

Researchers noted that once a photoreceptor cell is dead, it's gone for good.

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However, blue light on its own or retinal without blue light had no effect on cells. These retinal molecules were them introduced into other cell types of the body such as heart cells, nerve cells, cancer cells etc. Dr Ajith Karunarathne, an assistant professor in the university's department of chemistry and biochemistry explained that this blue light is constantly affecting the cornea and the lens that can not block or reflect it. 'Photoreceptor cells do not regenerate in the eye. It's not natural to be looking at such intense light all day long, so it's no wonder research is starting to find how bad it is for us. "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", study co-author Ajith Karunarathne said. Retinal is a form of vitamin A that changes shape when exposed to light rays.

Dr. Ajith Karunarathne, an author on the study, said in a press release that not all types of light are unsafe, as "no activity is sparked with green, yellow or red light".

"No activity is sparked with green, yellow or red light", said Karunarathne. But as a person ages or the immune system is suppressed, the patients loses the ability to counteract the harmful combination.

"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.

Dr Karunarathne said: "That is when the real damage occurs".