Blue Light from Cell Phones Leads to Macular Degeneration

December 11, 2017 | Wellness Resources

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Blue Light from Cell Phones Leads to Macular Degeneration
You wouldn’t stare at the sun without sunglasses, but what about your phone? The technology surge in the last few decades has greatly increased the amount of blue light we are exposed to everyday. Artificial sources of blue light include smart phones, tablets, computers, Mp3 players, TV’s, indoor lighting, energy-efficient fluorescents, and LED lighting. Research shows that blue light is damaging to our eyesight and may eventually lead to age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness.

What is Blue Light?

Light is made up of electromagnetic particles that travel in waves. Blue light has a very short wavelength so it emits a high amount of energy. This high energy light is all around us from the sun. In fact, this is why we perceive the sky as blue during the day. The high energy blue light from the sun helps give us energy by regulating our circadian rhythms. Not only is artificial blue light from technology potentially disrupting our natural circadian rhythms (such as watching TV or looking at your smart phone before bed), but the extra blue light exposure can also mean more eye strain, headaches, over-stimulation, and retinal damage over time that contributes to macular degeneration.

Light-sensitive cells of the retina are particularly susceptible to damage from oxidative stress caused by blue light exposure. A toxic compound called A2E absorbs blue light in the retina and causes free radical damage. The free radicals caused by toxic A2E leads to the development of age-related macular degeneration. Research has found that exposure to artificial blue light is associated with a build-up of retina damaging A2E.

Nutrition Protects Your Eyes

Studies have found that certain nutrients can protect your eyes from harmful blue light. If you’re like the average American who stares at a screen for six hours a day, make sure you get enough of these nutrients to protect your eyes.
Research has found that carotenoid compounds, lutein, zeaxanthin, and astaxanthin, help filter blue light in the retina.

Dietary supplements of these nutrients, when consistently consumed, have been shown to deposit in the macular pigment and protect eye health. Studies have also found that these carotenoids can even help to prevent AMD by offsetting gene weaknesses associated with the disease. Astaxanthin and lutein accumulate in the eye where they can help to protect the eye from harmful blue light and UV radiation. Astaxanthin also protects the eyes from strain.

Negatively charged phospholipids, phosphatidylserine and phosphatidylcholine, can prevent the cell death induced by A2E. In addition, resveratrol has been shown to protect the retina against the A2E oxidative stress that leads to permanent damage and causes macular degeneration.

The DHA compound in fish oil is also a necessary nutrient for macular health. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that eating oily fish at least once per week cuts the risk for developing age-related macular degeneration in half. High-quality, mercury-free DHA supplements are beneficial for eye health.

Time to Unplug

It might be time to work on trying to reduce your screen time. At the very least, avoid artificial blue light after sunset when nature intended for your eyes to rest. Foods that contain carotenoids include spinach, eggs, kale, collard greens, turnip greens, broccoli, zucchini, romaine lettuce, corn, and peas. Supplementing with 20mg of lutein and 4mg of zeaxanthin and astaxanthin is recommended per day. 500 mg – 100 mg of DHA per day is helpful for eye health.

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