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What are the links between blue light and AMD (age-related macular degeneration)?

June 14, 2021 4 min read

What are the links between blue light and AMD (age-related macular degeneration)?

It is no longer a secret: blue light from screens can cause many harmful effects on the human brain. Eye fatigue, digital eye strain, sleep disorders, disruption of the circadian rhythm, cataracts... 

The various symptoms are not even counted anymore. 

However, what most people don't know is that blue light can favor the development of a retinal disease called AMD (Age-Related Macular Degeneration). 

Still relatively unknown, this disease affects about 12% of the population between 65 and 75 years old. 

But how does blue light stimulate the appearance of AMD? And to prevent its apparition?

This article will allow you to clarify certain points concerning this disease, which is still too little known.  

What is AMD?

what is AMD

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a deterioration of a part of the retina (called the macula), which can lead to the loss of central vision, but it does not result in complete blindness. This disease is the leading cause of visual impairment in people over 50 years of age. In Canada, AMD affects approximately 1 million people. 

More and more common with the advent of screens and therefore blue light, AMD encourages a considerable weakening of visual capacities. 

The symptoms of AMD are discreet but should lead to consultation: 

  • a distortion of images and straight lines, which may appear wavy
  • a feeling of glare
  • a decrease in visual acuity
  • the appearance of one or more small dark or black spots (called scotomas) in the center of your field of vision
  • difficulty reading 
  • faces appear blurry

The onset of AMD may also depend on genetic factors. 

There are two forms of macular degeneration: 

  • Dry macular degeneration: this is the most common. However, its evolution is relatively slow. It results in the progressive disappearance of the cells of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), then to that of the photoreceptors located at the macula.
  • Wet macular degeneration: less common, it progresses more rapidly and leads to a greater risk of major vision loss. It results in a proliferation of new abnormal vessels under the retina.

 

How does blue light cause AMD?

How does blue light cause AMD?

With the advent of digital screens, the population is more widely exposed to blue light and LED lighting, and this continuously. This chronic exposure can cause the development of AMD, because blue light (short wavelengths on the visible light spectrum) is really toxic for the retina. The risk factors related to a consistent exposure to blue light are numerous.

According to Dr. Ajith Karunarathne, professor of cellular photochemistry in Sri Lanka: "The cornea and lens of the eye cannot block or reflect blue light”.

As a result, acute exposure to source of blue light light attacks the retina and causes cell death. The blue light acts as a trigger for an unwanted chemical reaction that turns the retinal into a photoreceptor killer. And once destroyed, the photoreceptor cells of the retina do not regenerate.

According to ANSES, a french organization specialized on eye diseases, continuous exposure to blue light without protection greatly favors the development of AMD. 

"The cells of the retina have repair mechanisms that can probably correct some of the damage caused by blue light. But we have a capital light, as our skin has a capital sun. We can wonder if the blue light of LED screens do not promote its early depletion, and thus the evolution towards age-related macular degeneration (AMD)"

 

How to prevent AMD? 

How to prevent AMD?  

There are several ways to preserve your vision and prevent possible AMD. 

The first way is through diet. Several studies have shown that a generous and regular intake of vitamins A, C and D can effectively slow down the onset of macular degeneration, thanks to their nutritional properties.  

Vitamin A contains retinol, which contributes to good vision, good adaptation of the eye to darkness, good irrigation of the eye and prevention of dry eyes.

Vitamin C is endowed with antioxidant properties, which consequently helps to protect cells against aging. It contributes to the normal formation of collagen, a fibrous protein present in the cornea of the eyes. In addition, it plays an important role in the health of the blood vessels present in the retina.

Vitamin D is believed to have incredible properties regarding the prevention of AMD. According to a 2015 study in Jama Ophthalmology: "Vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased likelihood of age-related macular degeneration (AMD)".

We can also add to this list: vitamin E, Zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-carotene and Omega-3. 

But we must also emphasize the fact that the prevention of AMD is related to the protection of the eyes against blue light. 

As mentioned above, overexposure to blue light from screens greatly favors the appearance of AMD, which could prove to be very disabling. It is therefore essential to protect your eyes from blue light. 

For this, it is strongly recommended to get a pair of anti blue light glasses. These glasses have the particularity to block the blue light (and all blue wavelengths), thanks to their blue light filters, thus preventing this one from reaching the retina. 

We offer on our website several collections of anti blue light glasses, with different filtering capacities.  

It is also recommended to reduce screen time, especially when working the night shifts.

Conclusion 

Numerous recent studies demonstrate the potential risks of blue light for vision: not only does it disrupt biological rhythms, but chronic exposure to this light would promote a decline in vision (visual acuity) and increase the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in the long term.

It is therefore essential to protect your eyes as much as possible from blue light, especially with anti-blue light glasses.

Wet macular degeneration can be treated, but it can never be completely cured. 

To date, it is not yet possible to treat dry macular degeneration. 

It is possible to be screened, notably through an annual funds examination of all people over 55 years old.

If AMD is treated as soon as possible, it will be less disabling.