Focus on Your Vision

Macular Degeneration and Poor Sleep:
Could Your Smartphone Be to Blame?

People keep finding more and more uses for their smartphones, from browsing online to watching movies. But an increasing body of evidence, including a recent study by the University of Toledo, shows that the blue light emitted by our smartphones may pose health risks.

A person's risk of developing macular degeneration, an eye disease that weakens the macula, or the center of the area of the eye that controls vision acuity, may increase with exposure to blue light. This type of light can irreversibly damage photoreceptive cells in the retina, making it difficult to focus your vision. Macular degeneration can affect your ability to read, use a computer, drive, and even recognize faces.

Blue wavelengths can boost your attention and mood during the day. However, these same wavelengths have been shown to wreak havoc on a person's internal circadian rhythms and suppress the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps you fall asleep at night.

The University of Toledo study didn't look directly at the effects of blue light from screens on human eyes, and the body of evidence around the topic is not conclusive. Nevertheless, limiting your exposure to blue light may be in your best interest.

To reduce your risk of macular degeneration and poor sleep, you can start by limiting your smartphone use before bed. Consider using the night-time filters that are available on Android and Apple phones, which reduce the amount of blue light released. It's also a good idea to talk to your eye care practitioner about how you can reduce your risk of developing macular degeneration.

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