Category Archives: Brain

The Relationship between Blue Light and Vision

The Relationship between Blue Light and Vision

The digital age has led to the creation of new diagnostic tools and pioneering laser treatments for serious illnesses such glaucoma and cataracts. But there are drawbacks to the explosive growth of technology over the last few decades. One aspect many eye health professionals are concerned about is the impact of long-term digital screen usage on eyes.

The blue light emitted from digital screens has some medical professionals and ophthalmologists concerned about potential future eye problems. While no current research supports the suggestion that blue light could cause permanent, irreversible eye damage and vision loss, it’s important to be aware of what blue light is, what the most recent studies indicate and what can be done to protect vision over the long-term.

A short wavelength and high energy

Sunlight is comprised of multiple colored light rays, including red, orange, yellow, green and blue. Light rays closer to the red end of the spectrum are longer and contain less energy, whereas those closer to the blue end of the spectrum are shorter and have higher energy.

blue light

The eye has evolved to afford humans some protection from the damage-causing UV rays in the spectrum of light, but it does not have genetic protection from the amount of blue light taken in from digital devices. The digital blue light rays are able to pass through the eye’s cornea and lens directly to the retina. The retina is the part of the eye that converts light into signals the brain understands as images. This process is what gives us the ability to see.

Blue light is related to macular degeneration

There is growing concern that blue light may cause macular degeneration, a disease primarily associated with the aging process. This is because macular degeneration occurs when the macula — a small area located in the middle of the retina containing  a large share of photoreceptor cells — deteriorates, causing the loss of the ability to see fine details. Over time, progressive photoreceptor cell death in the macula causes a person to completely lose central vision.

In 2018, University of Toledo scientists showed retinal molecules (which the macula uses to transmit images to the brain) interacted negatively with blue light. The application of blue light to retinal cells in the laboratory caused a collection of chemical reactions that can damage photoreceptor cells. The reactions are known as retinal-generated toxicity.

In spite of these concerning results, the research also emphasized the experiments were carried out in a lab setting and not directly on human eyes. Additionally, they noted it was unclear whether the amount of blue light emitted from digital screens would trigger similar toxicity levels as the amount of blue light used on cells in the experiment. Prior to the research, one of the best-known studies on the subject of blue light and eye damage occurred more than 20 years ago. The study connected blue light to photoreceptor cell death in rats, leaving many critics skeptical about blue light’s effects on human eyes.

Protecting eyes for healthy vision

While the true impact of excessive amounts of blue light on vision over the long-term remains to be seen, ophthalmologists and other medical doctors recommend limiting the use of digital devices as much as possible. However, this is due primarily to the fact that blue light can disturb the natural circadian rhythm of the body, causing problems with sleep that may affect other areas of health.

Beyond this, it is advised to limit the amount of time on digital devices to prevent conditions such as digital eye strain and computer vision syndrome. Both are characterized by blurred vision, dry eyes, eyestrain, headaches and neck and shoulder pain. The American Optometric Association recommends taking steps to avoid glare on digital screens, consciously blinking regularly to keep eyes from drying out and taking 15-minute screen breaks for every two hours spent continuously staring at a computer. The Association also suggest following the 20-20-20 rule: take a 20-second break to look at something 20 feet away every 20 minutes.

Brain-Based Technology of the Future

Brain-Based Technology of the Future

The brain’s natural complexity is the primary reason it is difficult to study. Experts contend the largest challenge facing neurosciences is that the basics of the discipline remain largely unknown. Fortunately, academics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and other prominent US universities suggest the Convergence in Healthcare movement may hold the key to… Continue Reading

The True Value of Technology in the Convergence in Healthcare Movement

The True Value of Technology in the Convergence in Healthcare Movement

The Convergence in Healthcare movement is rooted in the integration of skilled professionals from a collection of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) sectors, including life sciences, physical sciences, chemistry and computing. Academic leaders and other pundits in the medical field believe the best opportunity for innovation in medicine is the reinvention of the traditional… Continue Reading

This is What You Need to Know about the Future of Alzheimer’s and Convergence in Healthcare

This is What You Need to Know about the Future of Alzheimer’s and Convergence in Healthcare

America has a large number of medical research facilities employing top scientists. However, the U.S. government’s funding of life-saving research programs has declined in the past 15 years. The traditional scientific research model is failing to innovate at a pace to meet global health needs. Without a new approach, the U.S. medical research community is… Continue Reading

Five Things to Know about the BRAIN Initiative

Five Things to Know about the BRAIN Initiative

In the Massachusetts Institute of Technology-sponsored report “Convergence: The Future of Health,” American academic leaders outlined the forthcoming impact of the Convergence in Healthcare revolution on the United States healthcare industry. Best defined as an intersectional approach to research between members of the life science, physical science, mathematics, computing and chemistry sectors, the Convergence in… Continue Reading

Convergence in Healthcare and Mental Health: What You Need to Know

Convergence in Healthcare and Mental Health: What You Need to Know

According to the National Institutes of Health, neuropsychiatric disorders are the foremost cause of disability among Americans, incurring even more disability claims than circulatory and cardiovascular diseases. Neuropsychiatric disorders encompass a wide range of conditions related to mental and behavioral health, as well as neurological disorders, though mental and behavioral illnesses are responsible for a… Continue Reading

What You Need to Know about Convergence in Healthcare and Disorders of the Brain

What You Need to Know about Convergence in Healthcare and Disorders of the Brain

A 2001 World Health Organization (WHO) report revealed as many as one in four people around the world may experience a mental or neurological disorder in a lifetime. Research conducted by The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine suggests that in the United States alone, at least one in four people over age 18 will develop… Continue Reading