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Don’t Believe the Blue-Light Hype, Eye Doctors Say

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Recent reports suggesting that blue light from digital screens contributes to vision loss don’t tell the whole story, the American Optometric Association reports.

One study by researchers at the University of Toledo found that blue light transforms vital molecules in the eye’s retina into cell killers. That, they said, could lead to age-related macular degeneration.

But Karl Citek, O.D. and a member of the AOA Commission on Ophthalmic Standards, noted that the observed changes appeared only at microwatts (µW) of intensity above a typical threshold for digital devices, AOA reports.

“Researchers showed an effect at the given wavelength (445 nm) only when the energy was at 4.86 microwatts or greater. Previous research has shown that effects only occur when the energy is 3 µW or greater. Electronic devices typically emit no greater than 1 µW, and as far as I can tell, there is no cumulative effect for such low energies,”  said Citek, who is also subcommittee chair for the American National Standards Institute, which sets consumer-protection standards for the manufacture of sunglasses and over-the-counter readers.

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According to AOA: “If anything, Dr. Citek says the study lends support for the importance of wearing UV-A and UV-B blocking sunglassesoutdoors in sunshine. As compared to digital screens, sunlight’s intensity is vastly greater. As such, unprotected eyes exposed to excessive amounts of UV radiation in only a short amount of time can develop painful sunburn on the eyes, known as photokeratitis. However, long-term overexposure to UV radiation over the course of one’s life can cause more serious problems, such as AMD, cataract, pterygium, or even increased risk for some forms of cancer.”

AOA reports that “the verdict is still out” on blue light from digital screens.

Read more at AOA

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