They are one of the most profitable gadgets in the world, yet experts say they are so harmful, we could end up blind. And what are they? Smart devices are at the center of a storm due to their blue light, which researcher conclude gradually lead to loss of sight.
Blue Light Kills the Cells of the Eyes
Researcher say when blue light interacts with the photoreceptors within our eyes, it irreversibly alters one of the components of the plasma membrane of the cells. Photoreceptor cells need molecules called retinal to detect light and activate signaling to the brain, allowing it to be seen. Thus far, the simplest solution to help shield the eyes from this type of light is by wearing specialized glasses, like those popularized by Felix Gray, which filter out the blue light.
Researches point out, the constant barrage of blue lights on the retina triggers an abnormal increase in the concentration of calcium. This transforms a fundamental molecule into a toxic form that attacks the photoreceptors on the retina, altering them to the point of death. This mechanism, among other things, does not occur only in the cells of the eye, but in any cell type that contains retinal and is struck by blue light.
University research teams also made another discovery: the alpha- tocopherol molecule, a natural antioxidant derived from vitamin E, seems to offer protection to the photoreceptors affected by blue light. It’s a starting point for developing therapies aimed at slowing down macular degeneration, which is normally associated with age, and perhaps protecting the view of future generations that rely heavily on technology. Researchers point out that in elderly or immuno-compromised individuals, however, this protection is increasingly failing.
Normal Aging Process of the Eyes
The most common related phenomenon is the aging process of the eye: the macula, containing numerous photoreceptors. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in the United States, and approximately 5 percent of world blindness is due to AMD. Even if AMD does not cause total blindness, it can make daily activities, such as reading and recognizing faces difficult. It is estimated that, in 2020, about 196 million people will be affected by age-related macular degeneration, a figure that is likely to grow with the aging world population. Researchers are worried that blue lights found in these heavily-used smart devices will speed up vision problems.
The Best Advice for Using Smart Devices Today
Experts say LED lights are widespread and despite ophthalmic problems, they are here to stay because of their effectiveness. These lights are more concentrated, consume less energy, lasts longer than other forms of light (for 20+ years), and does not heat up the surface or emit heat. The reasons supporting the use of LED lighting are currently outweighing the hazards. Now, the advice of scholars remains that of not using smartphones and other electronic devices in the dark, and during the day, wearing computer glasses which can filter the blue light.