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The risks of blue light on the eyes and brain increase with age, this is how we can defend ourselves

The risks of blue light on the eyes and brain increase with age, this is how we can defend ourselves

The lenses of the glasses? Better if amber. Smartphone and laptop? Better if with the blue light filter. Here are some small tips to reduce exposure to blue light and related damage, which can affect the retina and brain and accelerate the aging process, with a greater impact as we age. This is what emerges from a very recent scientific research published in the Nature Partner Journal Aging belonging to the prestigious Nature group (Song et al, npj Aging, 2022).

The importance of natural light and the risks of artificial light

Light is essential for life but also for our body, since the alternation between light and dark determines the circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is the 24-hour cycle that, through changes in brain activity, hormone production and cell regeneration processes, establishes the times of wakefulness, sleep and nutrition. However, this is true for natural light. Our life instead leads us to be increasingly exposed to artificial lights, especially LED lights and smartphone and computer screens, whose emissions are largely in the blue light range. Previous studies had already had the opportunity to observe that artificial light, especially if responsible for high blue light emissions, can lead to alterations in the circadian rhythm and disorders in the alternation between sleep and wakefulness. The problem, however, is that LED light technology is still poorly studied and it has not yet been possible to analyze all its effects on human health in the long term. The study we are talking about today tries to shed more light.

Blue light from LEDs damages eyes and brain

Scientists have studied fruit flies, which are considered a model of study given the high degree of affinity with mammals and humans regarding various cellular processes. Plus, fruit flies have a very short lifespan which makes them easy to study. The flies were first kept in the darkness, then they were transferred to an environment illuminated with LED lights. This experiment was repeated with flies of different ages. Well, what has emerged is that artificial light has led to changes at the level of the mitochondria, the cellular organelles responsible for producing energy. In particular, various processes within the mitochondria have been significantly reduced as a result of exposure to light. As a consequence, artificial light accelerated aging processes, caused damage to the retina and neurons, increasing neurodegeneration with changes in behavior and movement as well. These effects were observed more in older fruit flies with the explanation that artificial light has amplified the processes of alteration of metabolism and cell function related to age.

Conclusions

The study focused on fruit flies and has not yet affected humans. However, the results must make us think and understand that we too can suffer damage if exposed for long periods of time to blue light, such as looking at a computer, a mobile phone or being in LED-lit environments for a long time. And that these damages can be felt more as age advances. So what can we do to protect our eyes and brain from blue light damage? Since we cannot live in darkness and that computers and mobile phones are needed, the ideas provided by the scientists are as follows. First, if you wear glasses, it may be a good idea to wear amber lenses that filter out blue light. Then, all devices, from smartphones to computers, have the ability to block the emission of blue light. Maybe the colors will seem so less bright but we will certainly have done a lot for our health.
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