Category Archives: Studies

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.

Hispanics at Increased Risk of Eye Disease

Hispanics at Increased Risk of Eye Disease

People of various ethnic groups may be more vulnerable to the effects of certain eye diseases. For example, Hispanics often experience much higher rates of eye disease than their Caucasian counterparts. Hispanics can take precautions to prevent vision loss.   Hispanic Americans are especially vulnerable to three serious eye diseases. Since the early 2000s, population… Continue Reading

Five Factors Contributing to Vision Loss

Five Factors Contributing to Vision Loss

According to the National Eye Institute, a part of the National Institutes of Health, 285 million people around the world are living with blindness or visual impairments. Moreover, the number of people in the US who are blind or visually impaired is expected to double to more than 8 million in the next three decades.… Continue Reading

The Promise of the Liquid Biopsy Cancer Test

The Promise of the Liquid Biopsy Cancer Test

According to the most recent data published by Cancer, a journal of the American Cancer Society, approximately 1.7 million new cases of cancer are expected to be diagnosed in the United States in 2018 alone. The total number of lives claimed by the disease is estimated to be more than 600,000, with lung cancer, colorectal… Continue Reading

Three Eye Diseases Disproportionately Affecting African-Americans

Three Eye Diseases Disproportionately Affecting African-Americans

The likelihood of contracting an eye disease depends on a variety of internal and external factors. A person’s family background can have a direct impact on the probability of developing certain illnesses affecting vision. Unfortunately, the diversity of people in the US does not accurately reflect the diversity of the country’s health research subjects. As… Continue Reading

How Convergence Could Save New Mothers and their Babies

How Convergence Could Save New Mothers and their Babies

In 2018, U.S. periodicals have drawn attention to the fact that the United States, a pillar of scientific innovation in the global community, has the highest rate of maternal death of any country in the developed world.   Maternal Deaths and Infant Mortality in Developing Countries According to the World Health Organization, women in developing… Continue Reading

Convergent Research Receives 2018 Nobel Prize

Convergent Research Receives 2018 Nobel Prize

Convergence in Healthcare is a movement to bring the sciences together in a deeply collaborative way to solve the world’s most pressing health issues. In a 2016 whitepaper, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) academics defined Convergence in Healthcare as “an approach to problem solving that integrates expertise from life sciences with physical, mathematical, and computational… Continue Reading

How Convergence will Change Medical Care for Patients

How Convergence will Change Medical Care for Patients

In the majority of writing on Convergence in Healthcare, authors focus on what the groundbreaking approach could do for medicine as a whole. Industry experts speculate on the innovative effects of the fresh information and new technologies that can result from the widespread application of Convergence in Healthcare. This integrative research model relies on the… Continue Reading

Three Defining Characteristics of Convergent Research

Three Defining Characteristics of Convergent Research

The concept of convergence is having a transformative impact on the sciences. Considered by many academics to be the third revolution of the life sciences since the discovery of molecular and cellular biology in the 20th century, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) defined convergence in 2011 as “the merging of distinct technologies, processing disciplines,… Continue Reading

Four Things You Need to Know about Federal Funding for US Medical Research

Four Things You Need to Know about Federal Funding for US Medical Research

Scientists, physicians, researchers, and other academics recognize that Convergence in Healthcare is the best way to ensure the US remains a leader in medical innovation. According to a 2016 report authored by leadership from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and supported by experts from other top American universities, Convergence in Healthcare is the single… Continue Reading