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Blue light on digital screens can accelerate blindness and eye disease

TORONTO — Increasing amount of cell phone usage may come with some serious consequences. And that trouble may be hiding, well, pretty much everywhere in the form of — blue light.

This information is not to scare you but rather bring awareness to new information. Take a moment and think about how often you glance at your phone, spend time on the computer or park yourself in front of the tv.

A 2016 Nielsen poll found that the average American spends 11 hours a day in front of some kind of screen. It’s no secret that scientists have studied the negative effects digital screens have our eyes, but a new study is revealing how it happens, so maybe we can try to stop it.

Researchers at the University of Toledo found that staring at blue light causes a chemical reaction in the retinal molecules — the key molecule in vision. The light can actually cause photoreceptor cells to die — and they don’t grow back. Scientists aren’t guaranteeing catastrophic damage, but the loss of too many can lead to macular degeneration, an incurable eye disease.

“We are being exposed to blue light continuously, and the eye’s cornea and lens cannot block or reflect it,” Dr. Ajith Karunarathne, assistant professor in the UT Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, said. “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.”

Research shows a natural vitamin E molecule can stop the cells from dying but as a person ages or the immune system is suppressed, people lose the ability to fight against the attack by retinal and blue light.

To protect your eyes from blue light, Karunarathne advises wearing sunglasses that can filter both UV and blue light outside and avoid looking at cell phones or tablets in the dark.

Most smartphones also have a built-in blue light filter. On an iPhone, go to ‘settings,’ ‘display and brightness,’ then click on ‘night mode’ where you can manually turn it on or schedule it for specific times.

On an Android, go to ‘display’ in your settings and turn to ‘blue light filter’ on with a swipe. You also have the ability to schedule on Android.