Posted on Oct 18, 2019, 5 p.m.
Research suggests that exposure to blue light from technology goes beyond damaging your eyes, and you may not even need to see it to experience the harmful effects according to a study published in the journal Aging and Mechanisms of disease.
While those blue light blocking lenses may help to protect your eyes, this study suggests that proximity to blue light not only damages our retinas but it also damages our brain cells, and can even lead to accelerated aging.
How fruit flies responded to daily exposure to blue LED lighting was analyzed, flies subjected to this lighting were found to have shorter lifespans compared to those kept in darkness or with blue light filtered out; those in the blue light group were found to have had damage to their retinal cells, brain neurons, as well as experiencing impaired locomotion, and difficulty climbing walls of their enclosures.
"It was very clear cut that although light without blue slightly shortened their lifespan, just blue light alone shortened their lifespan very dramatically," lead researcher Jaga Giebultowicz, Ph.D., notes.
To add to their findings some of the flies in the blue light group had mutations wherein they did not develop eyes at all, and even these eyeless flies displayed the same levels of brain damage and impaired locomotion as those with eyes; meaning the flies in the blue light group didn’t even need to see the light to experience harmful effects.
Fruit flies may have shorter lifespans compared to humans, but they have developmental and cellular mechanisms that are similar to humans according to the researchers; what this means for us is that we may not even have to be looking at our technology screens for the LED lighting to damage our brain cells.
"As science looks for ways to help people be healthier as they live longer, designing a healthier spectrum of light might be a possibility, not just in terms of sleeping better but in terms of overall health," co-first author of the study Eileen Chow says.
Lead author, Trevor Nash, agrees: "In the future, there may be phones that auto-adjust their display based on the length of usage the phone perceives. That kind of phone might be difficult to make, but it would probably have a big impact on health."
Bottom line is that when one thinks about factors that can delay/add to the signs of aging based on this research one might do well to add exposure to light from electronics/technology to that list. It may be best to take steps to avoid exposure to blue light by setting devices on night mode, and investing in some form of blue light blocking filter/lenses.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.