Blue light-induced retinal damage: a brief review and a proposal for examining the hypothetical causal link between person digital device use and retinal injury
Medical Hypothesis, Discovery & Innovation in Optometry,
Vol. 1 No. 3 (2020),
23 March 2021
Background: There is growing concern that the increased use of personal digital devices, which emit a high proportion of their light in the blue wavelengths, may have harmful effects on the retina. Extensive historical as well as current research demonstrates that exposure to high energy visible light (blue light) can damage the retina under certain circumstances. There are, however, no studies that directly address whether blue light at the intensities emitted by digital devices can potentially cause such harm. The present review aimed to examine whether blue light exposure from computers, tablets, and cell phones can, when used habitually over a prolonged period of time, be harmful to the retinal.
Methods: A search of the literature on blue light-induced retinal damage was performed using a number of scientific search engines, including BioOne Complete™, Google Scholar™, Paperity™, PubMed™, and ScienceOpen™. Studies most significant for addressing the question of possible harmful effects of blue light emitted by personal digital devices were selected from this search and reviewed.
Results: The data from the selected studies were summarized and their limitations in addressing the question of whether the blue light from personal digital devices is capable of producing retinal damage were addressed. Based on these limitations, a practical experimental protocol for collecting the additional data needed was proposed. Data from pilot experiments are presented that indicate the practicality of this approach.
Conclusions: The currently available data on the effects of blue light on the retina are not sufficient to refute the hypothesis that the use of personal digital devices could, over a lifetime, produce retinal damage. Additional studies, such as those proposed in this article, are needed to resolve this issue.
- retinal damage
- personal digital assistant
- personal digital device
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