Blue light emitted from computer and phone screens has become a necessary evil in our modern world. On one had, our entire modern ecosystem operates within the framework of instant technology, now. On the other hand, excessive blue light from too much screen time has been linked with obesity, psychological problems, and sleep problems.
Now a new study is linking the excessive blue light with accelerated aging. By studying fruit flies, scientists have discovered that our basic cellular functions could be impacted by the blue light emitted from computers and other common screens. The research is published in the Frontiers in Aging journal.
Dr. Jadwiga Giebultowicz explains: “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. 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.
“Our study suggests that avoidance of excessive blue light exposure may be a good anti-aging strategy.”
The research shows that fruit flies kept in constant darkness lived longer than flies exposed to blue light, because blue light triggers stress protective genes.
“Succinate is essential for producing the fuel for the function and growth of each cell. High levels of succinate after exposure to blue light can be compared to gas being in the pump but not getting into the car,” said Giebultowicz.
Humans are exposed to less intense blue light than the bugs in the experiment, so aging will likely be less intense, too
The research found that blue light exposure caused significant differences in the levels of metabolites in the cells of fly heads. Of particular interest was the fact that levels of the metabolite succinate were increased, but glutamate levels were lowered.
“Another troubling discovery was that molecules responsible for communication between neurons, such as glutamate, are at the lower level after blue light exposure.”
“LEDs have become the main illumination in display screens such as phones, desktops and TVs, as well as ambient lighting, so humans in advanced societies are exposed to blue light through LED lighting during most of their waking hours. The signaling chemicals in the cells of flies and humans are the same, so there is potential for negative effects of blue light on humans,“ said Giebultowicz.
“We used a fairly strong blue light on the flies – humans are exposed to less intense light, so cellular damage may be less dramatic. The results from this study suggests that future research involving human cells is needed to establish the extent to which human cells may show similar changes in metabolites involved in energy production in response to excessive exposure to blue light.”
Blue light blocking glasses are a trendy option for limiting exposure, as is red light therapy. Life, of course, is about balance and harmony, so be sure to sprinkle in adequate time away from the screens if you hope to live a longer and healthier life.