We Finally Know Why Blue Light Is So Damaging To Our Eyes

A close-up of a woman's eyes and nose with a blue tint

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

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

You may have heard that blue light that emits from phones and other electronics can disrupt your regular sleep patterns.

While other studies have been done on how exposure to blue light affects mood as well as significantly disrupt our circadian rhythms, this is the first time that a study has looked specifically at how blue light can be detrimental to our eyes. "Photoreceptor cells do not regenerate in the eye".

The new study comes from a team of researchers at the University of Toledo in the United States who showed that a long term exposure to the blue light can raise the levels of certain poisonous molecules released within the light sensitive cells of the eyes leading to macular degeneration.

"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.

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The loss of vision occurs due to deaths of the light sensitive cells of the retina. Because of this, in the cytoplasm, sharply increasing the concentration of calcium, which can eventually lead to cell death. This was revealed when researchers studied what happened when blue light was shone onto different types of cells from the body.

Normally, there's a molecule in our eyes called alpha tocopherol, which is a natural antioxidant, and it stops photoreceptor cells from dying.

"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. "It can kill any cell type", Karunarathne said.

The light waves of blue color in everyday life reflections from the computer monitors.

Karunarathne's lab found that blue light exposure causes retinal to trigger reactions that generate poisonous chemical molecules in photoreceptor cells. But as a person ages or the immune system is suppressed, the patients loses the ability to counteract the harmful combination.

"Some cell phone companies are adding blue-light filters to the screens, and I think that is a good idea", said John Payton, visiting assistant professor at University of Toledo. Any medicine would appear to help or delay macular degeneration, a condition that sees about 2 million new cases reported per year.

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