Washington : Blue light emitted from smartphones and other digital devices can accelerate blindness by transforming vital molecules in the eye's retina into cell killers, a study has found. Macular degeneration, an incurable eye disease that results in significant vision loss starting on average in a person's 50s or 60s, is the death of photoreceptor cells in the retina. Those cells need molecules called retinal to sense light and trigger a cascade of signalling to the brain.
Blue light from smartphones may speed blindness
"It's toxic. If you shine blue light on retinal, the retinal kills photoreceptor cells as the signalling molecule on the membrane dissolves," said Kasun Ratnayake, a PhD student researcher working in Karunarathne's group. "Photoreceptor cells do not regenerate in the eye. When they're dead, they're dead for good," said Ratnayak. Karunarathne introduced retinal molecules to other cell types in the body, such as cancer cells, heart cells and neurons. When exposed to blue light, these cell types died as a result of the combination with retinal. Blue light alone or retinal without blue light had no effect on cells.