Phones tend to get a lot of bad press, especially from those who believe that life was better before we were all permanently connected by an enormous and invisible web. But now there might be some real science that phones are harming your body, and we’re not just talking about radiation.
According to Ajith Karunarathne, a doctor from the University of Toledo, the blue light from phones can actually damage the retina – the thin, sensitive group of cells at the back of the eye which helps process what we see. She says that blue light particularly has the capacity to do enormous harm and can cause permanent vision problems.
Worries about blue light from phones are nothing new. But so far, much of the focus has been on the fact that blue light might interrupt natural sleep patterns by artificially signalling to the body that it’s morning and time to get up. This new research, however, is the first time that a reputable scientist has come out and said that blue light causes real damage to the human body.
Macular degeneration is a severe condition in which the cells of the eye begin to fail as a result of old age. They become clogged with protein debris and can’t function like younger eyes. It usually happens in older people, but Karunarathne says that the light from a phone can kick-start this process and make it happen in younger people too.
Phone manufacturers aren’t helping matters much. Technological limitations mean that the majority of phone screens don’t produce white light accurately. Instead, they overuse the blue part of the spectrum, meaning that they are especially damaging to the human eye. Blue light, according to the science, triggers the production of chemical reactions at the back of the eye which can damage cells.
Should You Freak Out?
The study in question tested the effect of blue light on the chemical retinol – a substance found in the back of the eye – to see what changes it could induce. Blue light is the highest-energy light in the visible spectrum because it has the shortest wavelength, and so scientists think it is the most likely candidate for causing chemical changes to exposed areas of the body.
But it should be noted that these changes were observed outside of the body. There’s no proof that blue light is inducing long-term damage inside the body. What’s more, firms like Eyes on Rochester can help provide preventive care for patients, reducing risk still further.
It’s also worth noting that humans have had to adapt to blue light for as long as they have been around. Yes, blue light comes from devices, but the sun naturally emits it too.
There are two ways to protect yourself from blue light. The first is to wear blue-light-filtering glasses both indoors and out. And the second is to use apps on your devices which automatically filter out blue light. Both of these techniques should hopefully protect your eyes, but you must be diligent.