New research shines light on fast ageing caused by blue light

October 30, 2019

The artificial light or, in particular, blue light in devices like phones, tablets and computers is known to be a risk factor for sleeping disorders but a new study from America’s Oregon State University (OSU) suggests that the blue wavelengths produced by light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are more damaging than once thought – it could be affecting your brain cells and longevity even when it’s not directly shining in your eyes.

The study of the common fruit fly, used because it shares similar biological mechanisms with humans, had remarkably shorter lives compared to flies kept in total darkness or in light with the blue wavelengths filtered out; these flies’ also showed impaired movement in their enclosures. This was observed even in some eyeless flies in the experiment, suggesting flies didn’t have to see the blue light to be harmed by it.

Jaga Giebultowicz, a professor of Interactive Biology at OSU, explains that natural light is crucial for the body’s circadian rhythm, too regulate much of the body’s processes. However, Giebultowicz said that the flies seemed to avoid blue light, “We hypothesised that light was stimulating genes that express a protective, stress-response in the flies; we’re going to test if the same signaling that causes them to escape blue light is involved in longevity.”

As scientists consider the possibility of designing a healthier spectrum of light, people, meanwhile, can opt for eyeglasses with amber lenses to filter out blue light and protect their sensitive retinas. Technology has also enabled phones, laptops and other devices to be set to block their blue light emissions and may custom-adjust their display in the future, for safer use.


Category: Education, Features

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