Why is Blue Light So Damaging?

19 August 2018

By Bronwen

We’ve long been told that staring at screens for extended periods is damaging to our eyes but now scientists finally know why.

We already know that digital devices and direct sunlight emit a type of light called blue light. We knew that this light was harmful but until now, we didn’t know exactly how or why this type of light affected our eyes more than others.

Researchers from the The University of Toledo found that the blue light transforms molecules in the retina into cell killers.

Staring at screens for excessive time does have an effect

Dr Ajith Karunarathne, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at The University of Toledo, said:

“We are being exposed to blue light continuously, and the eye’s cornea and lens cannot block or reflect it. It’s no secret that blue light harms our vision by damaging the eye’s retina. 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.”

‘Macular degeneration’ is an eye condition which is caused by the thinning of the part of the eye’s retina that allows us to see fine details. The blue light causes light-receptive cells to die off in people with the condition. Unfortunately, these cells can never be recovered but research like this could help create solutions to help slow down the progression of macular degeneration.

The researchers are currently looking into how our obsession with technology will alter the levels of people with macular degeneration in the future. Some phone manufacturers are already beginning to build blue light filters into their products which could help prevent eye conditions in their consumers.


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