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Blue light from phones and tablets can speed up blindness, study finds – CNET

Using phones and tablets in the dark can speed up blindness.

Alexey Dulin / EyeEm

Blue light from your smartphones and laptops can accelerate blindness, according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of Toledo say long periods of time exposed to blue light, the kind phones, tablets and televisions give off, can damage vision and generate poisonous molecules in the eye's light-sensitive cells. The researchers suggest this could accelerate macular degeneration and other eye diseases.

Their findings were published on July 5 in Scientific Reports.

In the study, the researchers exposed living cells to various types of light. They found that exposure to blue light triggers "reactions that generate poisonous chemical molecules in photoreceptor cells," the cells in our retina that respond to light. The group was aiming to understand how cells respond to everyday blue light exposure from devices like phones and TVs, according to a release.

"If you look at the amount of light coming out of your cell phone, it's not great but it seems tolerable," said Dr. Payton in a release. "Some cell phone companies are adding blue-light filters to the screens, and I think that is a good idea."

Eye disease such as macular degeneration is caused by the deterioration of light-sensitive cells in the retina. This disease is age-related and can cause blindness. Currently, 11 million people in the US have some sort of macular degeneration, according to a report published on Brightfocus Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports research. The patient number will likely double by 2050.

Dr. Ajith Karunarathne, one of the researchers and an assistant professor at the University of Toledo, told the Guardian that people should wear sunglasses that can filter both UV and blue light outside and avoid browsing on smartphones, laptops and similar gadgets in the dark.

Some other options to protect your eyes include wearing glasses with amber or orange-colored lenses that can block out blue light.

Dr. Karunarathne didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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