Natural light is essential for a healthy circadian rhythm, which is important for a person’s eating and sleeping patterns. However, constant exposure to blue light disrupts sleep and causes circadian rhythm disturbances. Jaga Giebultowicz, a researcher in the Ohio State University College of Science who studies biological clocks, points out that people are exposed to increased amounts of light in the blue spectrum because LEDs emit a large portion of the blue light.
“This technology, LED lighting, even in most developed countries, has not been used long enough to know its effect on human life,” Giboltovic says in a university statement. “There are growing concerns that prolonged exposure to artificial light, especially blue-enriched LED light, may be harmful to human health. While the full effects of blue light exposure over the lifespan are not yet known in humans, the accelerated aging observed in the model organism The short-lived neighborhood should alert us to the potential for cellular damage due to this stress.”
Oregon researchers analyzed the survival rates of common fruit flies in the dark and then transitioned at older ages to an environment of continuous blue light from LED lights. Drosophila has been used because it shares cellular and developmental mechanisms with other animals, including humans.
The flies moved from dark to light at the age of 2, 20, 40 and 60 days. The study included the effect of blue light on the mitochondria of flies cells. Mitochondria act as the cell’s power plant, the researchers say, producing adenosine triphosphate, a chemical energy source.
Previous research has shown that prolonged exposure to blue light affects the longevity of flies, including whether or not it shines in their eyes. Flies lived shorter lives after being exposed to daily cycles of 12 hours in light and 12 hours in darkness, compared to flies kept in complete darkness or flies that remained in light with blue wavelengths filtered out.
The researchers say the flies have impaired movement because the blue light damages retinal cells and brain cells. Their ability to climb the walls of their enclosures has diminished.
“The novel aspect of this new study shows that chronic exposure to blue light can impair energy production pathways even in cells that are not specialized in light sensing,” says Giboltovic. “We determined that certain interactions in mitochondria were significantly reduced by blue light, while others decreased by age regardless of blue light. You can think of it as exposure to blue light adding insult to injury in aging flies.”
Researchers suggest that to combat blue light, people should get glasses with amber lenses. This filters out the blue light and protects the retina. You can also set phones, laptops, and other devices to block blue emissions.
The study was published in Partner journals Nature Aging.