Blue light from phones and TVs may speed up aging in humans

James Marshall
October 18, 2019

The researchers exposed fruit flies to different forms of light, with the insects spending 12 hours in light and 12 hours in darkness as part of their daily cycle. Some of the flies in the experiment were mutants that do not develop eyes, and even those eyeless flies displayed brain damage and locomotion impairments, suggesting flies didn't have to see the light to be harmed by it. "It was very clear cut that although light without blue slightly shortened their lifespan, just blue light alone shortened their lifespan very dramatically". As well, many phones, tablets, and laptops now have blue filter features that strip away the blue light. The other groups of flies were either exposed to specific light sources that had been filtered to remove blue light or were in total darkness for the duration of the study.

The ones which were exposed to the blue LED suffered damage to their brain neurons and retinal cells which manifested itself in a diminished ability to climb walls. Researchers found that the flies exposed to blue light showed signs of damage to their retina and brain along with impaired locomotion.

If you don't feel like you have much in common with a fly, previous studies in humans have looked at short-term effects of blue light exposure.

Prof Giebultowicz stated: 'It used to be very certain reduce that though gentle without blue a minute bit shortened their lifespan, factual blue gentle on my own shortened their lifespan very dramatically'.

However, LED lights emit much higher quantities of blue light than standard incandescent bulbs of comparable brightness.

The authors said that natural light is crucial for healthy humans and animals as it stimulates the body clock which in turn regulates brain activity, hormone production and cell regeneration.

'As science looks for ways to help people be healthier as they live longer, designing a healthier spectrum of light might be a possibility, not just in terms of sleeping better but in terms of overall health'. If the flies are given a choice, they avoid blue light.

However, Giebultowicz points out that this result can not be applied to humans as the human brain "would receive much less light than fly brains". So when I heard how our obsession with screens could negatively affect our eye health and circadian rhythms, I practically jumped at the opportunity to purchase a pair of blue-light-blocking lenses. The blue light used in the lab is similar to the blue light that emanates from phones, computers, and other electronics.

Dr Alejandro Sánchez de Miguel, a co-author of the study from the University of Exeter, said: "Humans have evolved to need light during the day and darkness at night". A similar study at the University of Toronto found that when people wore glasses that blocked blue light, it had an impact on their melatonin levels.

"In the future, there may be phones that auto-adjust their display based on the length of usage the phone perceives", said lead author Trevor Nash, a 2019 OSU Honors College graduate who was a first-year undergraduate when the research began.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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