Blue light from smartphones and computer screens may quicken the ageing process: Study

In order to comprehend the effects blue light has on cells, Oregon State University researchers studied fruit flies.

Obesity and neurological issues have been linked to excessive screen use. The detrimental effects it has on our eyes have also been highlighted by researchers. Long periods of time spent scrolling through your phone or watching television can cause dry eyes, impaired vision, and in rare cases, cataracts. In relation to neurological issues, using a phone immediately before bed can cause sleeping problems. However, a recent study has now shown an additional adverse effect of prolonged exposure to the blue light these devices emit: accelerated ageing.

Researchers from Oregon State University conducted the study.

Advertisement

“Excessive exposure to blue light from everyday devices, such as TVs, laptops, and phones, may have detrimental effects on a wide range of cells in our body, from skin and fat cells, to sensory neurons,” Jadwiga Giebultowicz, a professor at Oregon State University and senior author of the study, said about the research.

“We are the first to show that the levels of specific metabolites – chemicals that are essential for cells to function correctly – are altered in fruit flies exposed to blue light,” Giebultowicz said.

Their research on fruit flies demonstrates that the insects “switch on” stress-protective genes when exposed to light, and that those kept in permanent darkness lived longer.

The research, which was published in the journal Frontiers in Aging, raises the possibility that limiting excessive blue light exposure could be an effective anti-aging tactic.

It demonstrates that consistent exposure to blue light led to considerable variations in the concentrations of metabolites the researchers tested in the cells of fly heads.

“Another troubling discovery was that molecules responsible for communication between neurons, such as glutamate, are at the lower level after blue light exposure,” Professor Giebultowicz said.

The researchers’ observations support their earlier results that blue light speeds up ageing by suggesting that the cells are not functioning at their best, which may lead to premature cell death.

The scientists will carry out more research to examine the direct impact of blue light on human cells.