"We are being exposed to blue light continuously, and the eye's cornea and lens cannot block or reflect it," Karunarathne said in a university article. "No activity is sparked with green, yellow, or red light. The retinal-generated toxicity by blue light is universal. It can kill any cell type."
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With the killing of photoreceptor cells, which don’t grow back when damaged, there’s an increased risk of age-related mascular degeneration, an incurable eye disease that leads to significant vision loss after age 50.“You need a continuous supply of retinal molecules if you want to see,” Karunarathne said. “Photoreceptors are useless without retinal, which is produced in the eye.”
The University of Toledo's findings directly counter what the American Academy of Ophthalmology reported last year — that blue light from our devices doesn't actually cause eye damage.
But Karunarathne and his team plan to continue collecting data on prolonged exposure to blue light on our eyes.
“Who knows. One day we might be able to develop eye drops, that if you know you are going to be exposed to intense light, you could use some of those… to reduce damage,” he said.
For now, he recommends wearing sunglasses that filter both UV and blue light outdoors and avoiding screen time in the dark.
Most smartphones also offer built-in blue light filters. For iPhones, you can turn your phone on “Night Mode” to turn the filter on, and on Android, your settings will offer an option to turn the blue light filter on.
Both Apple and Android allow users to schedule blue light filters for specific times.