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Exposure to Blue Light May Cause Accelerated Ageing

New research at Oregon State University suggests that the blue wavelengths produced by light-emitting diodes damage cells in the brain as well as retinas.

Prolonged exposure to blue light, such as that which emanates from your phone, computer and household fixtures, could be affecting your longevity, even if it’s not shining in your eyes.

Researchers from the Oregon State University College of Science published in Aging and Mechanisms of Disease found through a model organism, the common fruit fly — Drosophila melanogaster — that prolonged exposure to blue light can affect longevity.

Jaga Giebultowicz, a researcher in the OSU College of Science who studies biological clocks, led a research collaboration that examined how flies responded to daily 12-hour exposures to blue LED light – similar to the prevalent blue wavelength in devices like phones and tablets – and found that the light accelerated aging.

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.

Natural light, Giebultowicz notes, is crucial for the body’s circadian rhythm – the 24-hour cycle of physiological processes such as brain wave activity, hormone production and cell regeneration that are important factors in feeding and sleeping patterns.

“But there is evidence suggesting that increased exposure to artificial light is a risk factor for sleep and circadian disorders,” she said.

Giebultowicz also explains that the widespread use of LED lighting and displays from devices will increase the amount of exposure to blue light emissions. However, even in most developed countries the technology has not been used long enough to know its full effects on human health.

Eileen Chow, faculty research assistant in Giebultowicz’s lab and co-first author of the study, notes that advances in technology and medicine could work together to address the damaging effects of light if this research eventually proves applicable to humans.

The experts suggest a few things people can do to help themselves, such as no using devices in dim lighting for hours and using eyeglasses with amber lenses to block blue emissions. [APBN]