Are you addicted to your smartphones, laptops, and tablets? According to a recent study, the blue light emitted by these digital devices can affect the retina of your eye and lead to age-related macular degeneration.
Macular degeneration, an incurable eye disease that causes significant vision loss in a person in their fifties or sixties, is the death of photoreceptor cells in the retina. These cells need molecules called retinal to detect light and trigger a cascade of signals to the brain.
The results showed that exposure to blue light causes retinal reactions that generate toxic chemical molecules in photoreceptor cells.
“We are exposed to blue light constantly, and the cornea and the lens of the eye can not block it or reflect it,” said Ajith Karunarathne, an assistant professor at the University of Toledo, in Ohio, United States.
“It’s no secret that blue light damages our vision by damaging the retina of the eye,” he added.
Since photoreceptors, produced in the eye, are useless without a retina, it takes a continuous supply of retinal molecules to see.
“It’s toxic if you shine the blue light on the retina, retinal kills the photoreceptor cells as the signaling molecule on the membrane dissolves,” says Varsity researcher Kasun Ratnayake.
“The photoreceptor cells do not regenerate in the eye. When they are dead, they are dead for good.”
In the study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, when the team introduced blue light into other types of body cells, such as cancer cells, heart cells, and neurons, it died due to the retina. Blue light alone or retinal without blue light had no effect on the cells.
“The toxicity of the blue light produced by the retina is universal and can kill any type of cell,” Karunarathne said.
To protect your eyes from the blue light, wear sunglasses that can filter both UV and blue light and avoid looking at your cell phones or tablets in the dark, he suggests.