Prolonged exposure to blue light may speed up ageing, study warns

Scientists have studied the effects of blue light on fruit flies (Getty Images/Cultura RF)

Continued exposure to the blue light emitted from smartphones and computer screens could speed up the ageing process.

Experiments on common fruit flies has shown prolonged exposure to this light spectrum impaired their mobility and caused their brain cells to deteriorate.

The research, published in the journal Aging and Mechanisms of Disease, demonstrated that even blind flies – which had a mutation that stopped them from developing their eyes – showed a similar type of damage, implying that the flies did not have to ‘see’ the light to be harmed by it.

The scientists say their findings raise questions as to whether humans spending too much time in artificial light can impact overall health.

Jaga Giebultowicz, a professor at Oregon State University’s Department of Integrative Biology, said: ‘Humans are subjected to increasing amounts of light in the blue spectrum since commonly used LEDs emit a high fraction of blue light.

The scientists tested the blue light on fruit flies (Francisco Romero Ferrero/Wikimedia Commons)

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

Even relatively mild light was seen to shorten the flies lifespan by 5-15%, the researchers added.

However, Prof Giebultowicz argues this result cannot be applied to humans as the human brain ‘would receive much less light than fly brains’.

She told the PA news agency: ‘We can only say that long-term exposure to blue light has damaging effects on cells – and cells in flies and humans function in a similar way.’

Prof Giebultowicz said: ‘It was very clear cut that although light without blue slightly shortened their lifespan, just blue light alone shortened their lifespan very dramatically.’

Beware the blue (Getty Images)

She adds that if given a choice, the flies would avoid blue light.

For those wanting to protect their eyes from blue light, the researchers advise wearing glasses with amber lenses that can filter blue light and changing phone and other device settings to block blue emissions.


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