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Here’s How Blue Light Harms Your Eyes, According to a New Study

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It creates ‘cell killers.’

Researchers at The University of Toledo believe they’ve figured out the process by which blue light from digital devices and the sun damages the eyesight.

It transforms vital molecules in the eye’s retina into cell killers, according to a study they published recently in the journal Scientific Reports. And that leads to age-related macular degeneration.

“We are being exposed to blue light continuously, and the eye’s cornea and lens cannot block or reflect it,” said Dr. Ajith Karunarathne, assistant professor in the UT Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. “It’s no secret that blue light harms our vision by damaging the eye’s retina. Our experiments explain how this happens, and we hope this leads to therapies that slow macular degeneration, such as a new kind of eye drop.”

Macular degeneration is the death of photoreceptor cells in the retina. Those cells need molecules called retinal to sense light and trigger a cascade of signaling to the brain, a press release from the University of Toledo explains.

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“You need a continuous supply of retinal molecules if you want to see,” Karunarathne said. “Photoreceptors are useless without retinal, which is produced in the eye.”

Karunarathne’s lab found that blue light exposure causes retinal to trigger reactions that generate poisonous chemical molecules in photoreceptor cells.

“It’s toxic. If you shine blue light on retinal, the retinal kills photoreceptor cells as the signaling molecule on the membrane dissolves,” said Kasun Ratnayake, a PhD student researcher working in Karunarathne’s cellular photo chemistry group. “Photoreceptor cells do not regenerate in the eye. When they’re dead, they’re dead for good.”

Karunarathne introduced retinal molecules to other cell types in the body, such as cancer cells, heart cells and neurons. When exposed to blue light, these cell types died as a result of the combination with retinal. Blue light alone or retinal without blue light had no effect on cells.

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The researcher found that a molecule called alpha tocopherol, a vitamin E derivative and a natural antioxidant in the eye and body, stops the cells from dying. However, as a person ages or the immune system is suppressed, people lose the ability to fight against the attack by retinal and blue light.

The lab currently is measuring light coming from television, cell phone and tablet screens to get a better understanding of how the cells in the eyes respond to everyday blue light exposure.

“If you look at the amount of light coming out of your cell phone, it’s not great but it seems tolerable,” said Dr. John Payton, visiting assistant professor in the UT Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. “Some cell phone companies are adding blue-light filters to the screens, and I think that is a good idea.”

To protect your eyes from blue light, Karunarathne advises to wear sunglasses that can filter both UV and blue light outside and avoid looking at cell phones or tablets in the dark.

Karunarathne added: “By learning more about the mechanisms of blindness in search of a method to intercept toxic reactions caused by the combination of retinal and blue light, we hope to find a way to protect the vision of children growing up in a high-tech world.”

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New Technology Could Help the Legally Blind to See

The glasses work by capturing images with a small camera, enhancing them, and then projecting them onto screens in front of each eye in real-time.

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TUCSON, AZ – Technology being developed at the University of Arizona could help those who are legally blind or who have impaired eyesight to see.

Hong Hua, professor of optical sciences at the James C. Wyant College of Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona, has become highly recognized for her research in innovative 3D display technologies, complex visualization systems and novel image acquisition systems. Working with graduate student Jason Kuhn, the team developed technology that has enabled the creation of the latest generation of near-eye optics, according to a press release from the university.

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Specifically, Hua and Kuhn developed a wedge-shaped prism eyepiece design with free-form surfaces that provide both high resolution and a large exit pupil – a combination and level of image quality that has not been previously achieved.

In optics, the exit pupil of an eyepiece is a virtual aperture through which light exits a system and projects into a viewer’s eye. Imagine holding a pair of binoculars about ten inches in front of your eyes; the small circle of light you see in each lens is the exit pupil.

In developing a way to deliver a larger exit pupil and wider field of view in a near-eye system, the UA invention provides a larger image and thus more visual data to the brain.

“This is where we see the real-world impact of the leading research being done at the UA,” said TLA Director of Licensing Rakhi Gibbons. “We’re so proud of Dr. Hua and her work, and of the UA’s commitment to contributing to improving lives.”

Working with Tech Launch Arizona, the office of the UA that commercializes inventions stemming from research, the university patented the technologies and licensed them to eSight Corp., a company that has integrated the inventions into new electronic glasses that deliver the ultimate combination of image quality, field of view, size, weight and cost.

“When I originally met with the eSight team, I was intrigued by the broad social impact of the project,” Hua said. “They said they were developing a system to help low vision people, and the more I listened to them, the more I thought they were doing something really useful and helpful, and I wanted to be a part of it.”

The end product – eSight 3 – allows individuals with low vision to see, permitting the legally blind to be mobile, thrive at work, study independently and engage in virtually all activities of daily life. The glasses work by capturing images with a small camera, enhancing them, and then projecting them onto screens in front of each eye in real-time, providing more visual data to the brain and triggering an increased reaction from the eye. The glasses also allow users to adjust zoom, focus, contrast and color.

According to eSight Chief Technology Officer Charles Lim, the partnership with Hua and the UA has helped the company be an innovative leader.

He said, “The IP we worked on with the University of Arizona has been critical in allowing us to develop our proprietary best in class near-eye optics that have allowed eSight to deliver the best combination of image quality, field of view, size, weight and cost to help position us as leaders in this space.”

According to the company’s website, the glasses restore sight for a majority of individuals with low vision, helping people with macular degeneration, glaucoma, retinal detachment, cataracts, retinopathy and other conditions.

Watch a video about the technology:

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83 Jobs to Be Cut as Optical Plant Closes

The facility is a safety prescription eyewear lab.

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Hoya Optical Labs of America plans to close a safety prescription eyewear lab in Plymouth, IN.

The closure will result in 83 jobs being lose, The Pilot News reports.

Hoya informed the state of its plans in a Workers Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act letter.

Bruce Scott, Hoya vice president of safety prescription, said the closure will happen in phases. It will be completed in early March.

The first group of workers will be laid off on Oct. 4.

Read more at The Pilot News

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Ophthalmic E-Commerce Company Acquired

It focuses mainly on contact lens re-ordering.

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NEWBURY PARK, CA — Compulink Healthcare Solutions announced that it has acquired MyEyeStore, an e-commerce solution in ophthalmic healthcare.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

MyEyeStore focuses mainly on contact lens re-ordering, with the ability for optometry and ophthalmology practices to also sell other recommended products directly to the patient.

“This acquisition is the latest example of how Compulink continues to lead the industry in expanding our products and services to meet the needs of our clients,” said Link Wilson, CEO and product architect for Compulink. “We expect this acquisition and the subsequent integration into our all-in-one solution to increase the capture rate of contact lens re-orders by 25-50%, depending on the practice, and with minimal effort from our clients. The integration will also allow providers to recommend other retail products for improving patient’s health via this on-line store.”

Compulink’s solution includes practice management, EHR, optical, ASC, patient portal and ophthalmic billing services. The company currently has over 20,000 providers using its Advantage software, along with 19 ophthalmic colleges and universities who have standardized on Compulink.

“We are looking forward to becoming a part of the Compulink family,” said Stephannie Keller, new VP of eCommerce for Compulink and MES division president “This acquisition allows us to continue to innovate and provide true 24/7 availability for our clients and their patients. Together we look forward to creating a platform unlike any other.”

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