How much damage are screens doing to our eyes?

Most of us use screens in our professional lives as well as during leisure time in large quantities. For as long as this has been true, new studies have been published connecting our screen time to some plethora of health risks. Most recently, as explained by Popular Science, “researchers at the University of Toledo have begun to parse the process by which close or prolonged exposure to… ‘blue light’ can trigger irreversible damage in eye cells.”

Blue light, produced by our screens, can apparently cause a damaging chemical reaction in our eyes. Study author and chemistry professor Ajith Karunarathne found that, “In the lab, when cells from the eye were exposed to blue light directly—in theory, mimicking what happens when we stare at our phone or computer screens—the high-intensity waves trigger a chemical reaction in the retinal molecules in the eye. The blue light causes the retinal to oxidize, creating ‘toxic chemical species’… The retinal, energized by this particular band of light, kills the photoreceptor cells, which do not grow back once they are damaged.”

In case none of that makes sense to you, here is the point. Blue light “can kill photoreceptor cells” in your eyes. And “murdering enough of them can lead to macular degeneration, an incurable disease that blurs or even eliminates vision.”

Of course, you might be thinking, doesn’t blue light occur naturally in sunlight? Yes, it does. But as Karunarathne says, we are usually told to avoid looking at the sun, and listen to that advice. The same can’t be said for our screens.

This information, Karunarathne thinks, can lead to positive technological developments to aid our ocular health. He told Popular Science, “Who knows. One day we might be able to develop eye drops, that if you know you are going to be exposed to intense light, you could use some of those… to reduce damage.”

The research out of the University of Toledo was published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Source: popsci.com – Screens are killing your eyeballs, and now we know how
Published: August 10, 2018