Blue Light Poisons Retina, Causes Early Onset Macular Degeneration

Blue Light Poisons Retina, Causes Early Onset Macular Degeneration

It has been reported in the past how blue light can be dangerous to vision. Now, recent research warns that due to increased exposure you may be damaging your eyes without even knowing it. 

As your daily life forces you to continually use digital applications, it turns out that your eyes are constantly in harm’s way. Researchers have been following the effects of blue light on humans for decades but in just a few years, exposure has been so rapid, vision risks are surmounting at an unprecedented rate. 

It is now determined that excessive blue light has been linked to a molecular reaction which actually creates poisons cells in the retina and, over time, breaks it down. This becomes the perfect breeding ground for early onset macular degeneration. 

Learn about ways you can digitally detox and other practices you can implement to keep your vision optimally healthy well into your old age. 

Poison Cells Kill On Site

When you are exposed to synthetic (digital or light bulb) blue light it can inconspicuously affect you until symptoms subsequently arise. 

Blue light is notorious for blasting into our eyes through natural occurrences like sunlight and sunlight reflections which your body is mostly able to handle. Yet, when concentrated in something like digital exposure, the effects can be much more damaging. This is due to the fact that blue light has shorter wavelengths which condenses its energy into a potent weapon that invisibly passes through your pupil directly to the back of your retina and begins its killing rampage. 

According to Dr. Rebecca Metzinger, Chief of Ophthalmology at Veterans Health Care System in New Orleans and an Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at Tulane, 

“It [blue light] is affecting one of the forms of vitamin A that is critical for sight and then changing the shape of the cells that give us vision, and ultimately leading to that cell death,”

Kids in Harm’s Way

With the digital world still in its infancy, reports are trickling in regarding its effect on human health. From screen addiction to car accidents, believe it or not humans are still acclimating to this technological whirlwind which changes almost daily. However, it is the young that is at the greatest risk. Developing eyesight is being exposed to blue light as early as two-years of age when digital screens are often introduced. 

According to a report by Breaking News, 

“Prolonged exposure to the blue light emitted from smart phones and laptops can trigger poisonous molecules which could lead to blindness, a leading eye specialist is warning.”

People over twenty years old have some protection as by this age the eye lens develops a yellowing that acts as a light absorber, diverting dangerous rays from reaching the retina. With the onslaught of digital viewing, it is now being shown that this natural protection is not enough. 

The disconcerting part of this research is that those below the age of twenty have not yet developed this yellowing protection. As a result, children exposed to excessive blue light from digital screens could be damaging their eyesight and setting themselves up for a future risk of early onset macular degeneration. 

Kasun Ratnayake, a PhD student researcher working with Dr. Ajith Karunarathne, assistant professor in the UT (University of Toledo) Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry Cellular Photo Chemistry Group commented, 

“It’s toxic. If you shine blue light on retinal, the retinal kills photoreceptor cells as the signaling molecule on the membrane dissolves,…Photoreceptor cells do not regenerate in the eye. When they’re dead, they’re dead for good.”

Dr. Karunarathne added,

“Every year more than two million new cases of age-related macular degeneration are reported in the United States,..By learning more about the mechanisms of blindness in search of a method to intercept toxic reactions caused by the combination of retinal and blue light, we hope to find a way to protect the vision of children growing up in a high-tech world.”

Identify Blue Light Exposure and Fix It

Being exposed to blue light does not cause macular degeneration right away. It is through repetitive use syndrome (RUS) that blue light slowly chips away at your macula. Over time these damaging, undetectable light waves cause digital eye strain, the leading cause of breaking down optical cells and compromising vision. There are several ways to spot blue light over-exposure and how you can protect yourself to minimize the negative effects.

The Mayo Clinic cites these top signs of digital eye strain:

  • Sore, tired, burning or itching eyes
  • Watery or dry eyes
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Headache
  • Sore neck, shoulders or back
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling that you cannot keep your eyes open 

Protecting yourself from digital eye strain and blue light exposure isn’t that difficult. All it takes is some minor adjustments and common sense. These are some ways you may want to consider preventing future macular degeneration development from blue light exposure:

  • Do not view too close to screen
  • Apply or install light filter options
  • Wear blue light protective glasses
  • Limit screen time 
  • Take breaks from digital viewing
  • Blink more while viewing screens
  • Adjust screen background and text to reduce glare
  • Avoid using devices before bedtime
  • Get regular eye exams

It is easy to suddenly find yourself tethered to a computer or phone screen for hours at a time. Constant reliance on digital activity has created such a norm that devices are being implanted into eyeglasses; screens spew advertising while pumping gas; and simply purchasing something at a store requires a digital transaction. Add in blue light exposure from natural sources and you are more exposed to blue light than your biological evolution can keep up with. 

Maybe in a hundred years or so humans will develop some sort of additional protection as a result of decades of blue light exposure. Until then, rather than suffer with early onset macular degeneration, protect yourself by using digital screens with caution and responsibility.