Blue Light From Phones and Tablets Can Speed Up Blindness, Study Finds

2020 has been quite the year with a new normal for many people - one of which may include working remotely from the comfort of your own home.

With the COVID-19 Pandemic - phone screen time has increased dramatically over the past several months as more and more people are depending on their personal electronics to keep in touch with their friends and family - both near and far.

However, spending hours on end looking at your phone screen and laptop screen can speed up blindness, a study finds. 

Long periods of time exposed to blue light can “damage your vision and generate poisonous molecules in the eye’s light-sensitive cells” according to researchers from the University of Toledo. And if that doesn’t sound harmful enough - this can also accelerate macular degeneration and other eye diseases.

Related: Scientific Reports on Blue Light exposure to the human body

In this particular study conducted by the researchers at the University of Toledo - the team exposed living cells to various types of light.  When the cells were exposed to blue light - a reaction was triggered which in turn generated  poisonous chemical molecules in the photoreceptors cells which are the cells in our retina that respond to light. The goal was to better understand how cells respond to every day blue light exposure - which come from devices like our phones and TV’s.

How Bad is Blue Light Exposure to the Eyes?

You may think that the amount of light coming from your cell phone/laptop may seem tolerable - but factor in the hours per day you are using these devices plus not to mention  the extra time spent in bed in the dark scrolling through your feeds. This may be doing more harm than good.  

Good news is that some cell phone companies are adding blue-light filters to screens - and that is a great start.  However, Macular Degeneration is currently affecting around 11 million people in the U.S. and if not taken care of can cause deterioration of light-sensitive cells in the retina.  The number of people affected by this will likely double by 2050 according to a report Published by Brightfocus Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports research.  Of course, this is all age-related, but it is never too early to be proactive about taking care of our eye health especially when it comes to young children.

Related: Age-Related Macular Degeneration: Facts & Figures

Protecting Your Eyes In the Long Run

According to Dr. Ajith Karunarathne, one of the researchers and assistant professor at the University Toledo - wearing sunglasses that filter out UV and Blue light outside, and avoid browsing on your personal electronics in the dark are helpful steps to take to protect your eyes.  You can also add a blue light screen protector if your cell phone doesn’t already include that added benefit.  You can find yours here.