Experts warn devices can cause partial blindness – but a new screen cover can protect against damage
Key culprit is the LED screens found in most electronic devices
These can can harm the light-sensitive retina, irreversibly damaging sight
However the problem can be remedied by using special screen filters
Dr Celia Sanchez-Ramos has developed one to make light less damaging
By JAKE WALLIS SIMONS
As someone who suffers from computer eye strain, I was alarmed to discover that prolonged exposure to gadgets such as iPhones and iPads can cause irreversible damage to the eyes.
A Spanish expert, Dr Celia Sanchez-Ramos, has found the LED screens found in most electronic devices can harm the retina – the light-sensitive layer at the back of the eye – and may even lead to partial blindness.
Research has already shown that the intense levels of ‘blue light’ emitted from modern gadgets can cause a variety of health complaints, ranging from sleeping and eating problems to headaches and even cancer. Now, Dr Sanchez-Ramos has discovered that it can also permanently damage the retina.
In extreme cases, she says, it may even lead to macular degeneration, which causes dark patches to appear in the centre of the field of vision. According to Dr Sanchez-Ramos, modern LED screens, produced from about 2007 on wards, emit up to five times as much blue light as older technology.
This matches my own experience, in which pre-2007 screens tend not to cause discomfort.
The average adult now spends up to eight-and-a-half hours in front of a screen every day, and it is not uncommon to be exposed to multiple screens at once.
For these reasons, says Dr Sanchez-Ramos, who is based at Complutense University in Madrid, the majority of people are likely to be in the danger zone.
Children and the elderly are most at risk on account of their delicate eyes, as well as ‘digital workers’ and those – like me – who are especially sensitive to blue light.
‘Never before in human history have we exposed our eyes to light that is so intense, for such long periods, from such an early age,’ she says.