Science 3 min read

Exposure to Blue Light From LEDs Can Make You Age Faster



According to a recent study, prolonged exposure to blue light – which your phone or computer emits – can affect your longevity.

Every time you flip on a wall switch or turn on your phone, you become exposed to a variety of visible light rays. Expectedly, these rays affect our bodies in different ways.

Aside from the invisible ultraviolet rays, the sun also emits visible light, which consists of a range of colored light with different energies. These include red, orange, yellow, green, and blue light rays.

Here’s where the physics gets interesting.

An inverse relationship exists between the wavelength of light rays and the amount of energy they contain. In other words, short-wavelength provides more energy, and those with long-wavelength include more.

While the rays on the red end of the visible light spectrum have a longer wavelength, the blue end has a shorter wavelength and more energy.

As technology advances, so did the sources of blue light exposure. So, aside from the sun, we’re now exposed to the rays from computers, lights, and television.

A large number of these exposure comes from light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

Previous studies already suggest that exposure to blue light from LEDs is a risk factor for sleep and circadian rhythm disorder. But, how does it affect the human lifespan?

That was the question the Oregon State University wanted to answer.

In a statement, a researcher in the OSU College of Science, Jaga Giebultowicz said:

“But this technology, LED lighting, even in most developed countries, has not been used long enough to know its effects across the human lifespan.”

So, Giebultowicz and colleagues decided to conduct a study.

How Prolonged Exposure to Blue Light Can Accelerate Aging

For the study, the researchers examined how fruit flies responded to daily 12 hours exposure to blue LED light.

Flies that the OSU team subjected to a daily cycle of 12 hours in light and 12 hours in darkness had shorter lives compared with those kept in complete darkness. Not only were the retinal cells and brain neurons of the exposed flies damaged, but they also displayed impaired locomotion too.

Even the eyeless mutant flies in the study displayed brain damage and locomotion impairment. This suggests that the flies didn’t have to see the harmful rays to experience its effects.

After measuring the expression of some genes in the fruit flies, the researchers discovered that the flies expressed stress-response protective genes under the light. This led to the hypothesis that light was regulating the gene.

Giebultowicz, a professor of integrative biology, said:

“The fact that the light was accelerating aging in the flies was very surprising to us at first. Then we started asking: what is it in the light that is harmful to them? And we looked at the spectrum of light. It was very clear cut that although light without blue slightly shortened their lifespan, just blue light alone shortened their lifespan very dramatically.”

How To Reduce The Damaging Effect of Blue Light

Aside from sitting in the dark, other precautions can reduce the damaging effect of the rays, said the researchers.

For example, you can set your smartphones, laptops, and other devices to block blue light emission. Also, eyeglasses with amber lenses can filter out blue light and protect your retina.

The researcher suggested that technology and medicine may one day work together to produce a healthier spectrum of light. That way, not only would we sleep better, but it could also improve our overall health.

Read More: Scientists Manipulate Brain Cells Using Smartphone-Controlled Implant

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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