We have been warned for a while now: the blue light beamed into our eyes from our smartphones, tablets and other screens. It is no coincidence that now every device has a variant of Night Shift that makes the image of electronic devices a lot more yellow as the darkness falls. The idea behind this is that all that blue light in the evening is bad for your sleep rhythm, because it stops the production of melatonin. We all know the consequences of this .
The research that demonstrated this made it clear at the time that there were signs that all of that blue light could also damage your eyes in the long term, but more research was needed. That research has been done for the most part, among others by the University of Toledo in Ohio. That shows that although we are not sure yet how serious the damage is, there is certainly a deterioration of our eyes by the blue light of our smartphones.
Why is blue light harmful?
Blue light can not be stopped or reflected by our cornea and the eye lens, in contrast to all other colors of light. The studies showed that blue light does damage to a molecule called retinal. Retinal is important, because those molecules are the link between the photoreceptors in our eyes that capture the light and our brain. Put simply, these molecules are the messengers that bring the visual information to our brain. Retinal is produced in the eye.
The problem is that when blue light is shed on the retinal, the molecules can produce a kind of venom that attacks the photoreceptors in the eye. In contrast to retinal, those receptors are not restored when they die: road is gone. As you get older, your immune system has more and more trouble to neutralize that poison and because we are constantly exposed to sunlight (which includes blue light) it also explains why some people are starting to see less and less well.
How bad is the effect of smartphones?
There is now the big question: how much does our smartphone use contribute to this? Another researcher who participated in the study says that at the moment it seems that the amount of blue light that we get as a ‘bonus’ is tolerated. It is not good, that much is certain, and the researcher also says that it is a good idea for smartphone makers to process a blue light filter in their screens.
The next step in the research is now to see how much blue light we shine in our eyes when we look at our screens and how that relates exactly to our ‘normal’ dose. Now that it is clear how blue light harms our eyes we are a step further in understanding what we can do best to prevent that. So you do not have to say goodbye to your screen for a long time.