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  • Screen blue light might cause macular degeneration.

    Posted on OscarCP Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Home Forums Outside the box Rumors and what-ifs Screen blue light might cause macular degeneration.

    This topic contains 23 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  OscarCP 1 month, 2 weeks ago.

    • Author
    • #210875 Reply

      AskWoody Lounger

      So you know:

      UT Chemists Discover How Blue Light Speeds Blindness

      4 users thanked author for this post.
    • #210945 Reply

      AskWoody MVP

      Just to summarize the report-

      The findings were published by the University of Toledo.

      According to Dr. Ajith Karunarathne, his lab found that blue light from the sun and from digital devices (television, computers, tablets, and cell phones) causes retinal molecules to trigger reactions that generate poisonous chemical molecules in photoreceptor cells that lead to macular degeneration (an incurable eye disease that results in significant vision loss).

      A molecule called alpha tocopherol, a vitamin E derivative and a natural antioxidant in the eye and body, stops the cells from dying, but as a person ages or the immune system is suppressed, it is less effective and people lose their vision.

      Blue light filters for screens, wearing sunglasses that can filter both UV and blue light when outside, and avoid looking at cell phones or tablets in the dark, may help… but their efficacy and the exact levels of exposure that may be safe has yet to be determined. It wasn’t mentioned whether Vit E supplementation might be protective.

      For all of us that spend a lot of time on our computers it may be important to know about… and parents of all the kids who are doing homework or following social media on computers and cell phones should be aware… the actual blindness doesn’t set in until one is in one’s 50’s or 60’s…

      Win 7 Home, 64 bit, Group B

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      • #210954 Reply

        AskWoody Lounger

        the actual blindness doesn’t set in until one is in one’s 50’s or 60’s…

        Ohh that’s a relief then, we were still on the Abacus when I went to “SkOoL” but on a serious note I really think we are saving up some terrible problems for years to come, not only for us but the future generation with their addiction to these hand held obsessions. I am fervently looking forward to how the upcoming dark Theme is going to Pan out in the next version of Win 10 1809?? or when ever it shows up. Not a big fan of the Bright White glare and the Blue Theme was more irritating I found. We will see I guess. (no pun intended)

    • #210967 Reply

      AskWoody Lounger

      At the risk of going a bit off topic, blue, violet, and ultraviolet (UV) light is to be generally avoided. Hence sunscreen and sunglasses are recommended, both of which block the offending light. That assumes that you do your due diligence and research the products – amazingly enough, some sunscreens and sunglasses are useless in blocking violet and UV light. There are also various ways to block this light from computer screens (or more generally ‘device’ screens) ranging from software, to computer glasses, to physical screens you place over the device display. Again, however, some of the stuff you’ll find out there is total junk. Some, of course, is quite useful.

      I don’t think the link above mentioned this, but violet and UV can also increase the chances of cataract formation.

      5 users thanked author for this post.
      • #210993 Reply

        AskWoody MVP

        Are you aware of any standards, so that one can avoid the junk?


        Win 7 Home, 64 bit, Group B

        2 users thanked author for this post.
        • #211032 Reply

          AskWoody Lounger

          As far as avoiding junk as well as doing things that will actually help preserve your vision, your best bet is to get the opinion of your eyecare professional, preferably either an optometrist or ophthalmologist. They will be in a position of knowing what actually works best.

          There are some testing organizations that are very reputable, among them, ANSI (American National Standards Institute), UL (Underwriters Laboratories), and NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health). There are also some optometric organizations around, but the trouble with a lot of them is that it’s easy to come up with realistic sounding , but fake, names. Other than the three organizations above, I would research any organization that claims to have certified a product.

          I would definitely NOT buy anything online until I had thoroughly researched the product and received the opinion of an eyecare pro. Remember the bogus glasses that were sold before last year’s solar eclipse?

          Edit: Even if a product is ‘certified’ by one of the three organizations above, always check the logo on the product and make sure it matches the official logo of the organization (its easy to see the official logo online by just googling the organization). There have been cases of forged/counterfeit logos.

          • This reply was modified 3 months ago by  DrBonzo.
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    • #210970 Reply

      AskWoody Lounger

      I use glasses that turn dark under UV, and because of the already known other problems with blue light and the bad effects of being exposed to continuous glare, also turn down the screen illumination, unless I need something that requires full brightness to be seen properly.

      So far, my vision is fine, good acuity, not bad for my age. Other than for the need to wear glasses and putting up with some annoying “floaters”.

      I know someone who, though still young, developed severe eye problems after working with a computer for a number of years (but using computers no more than myself or others working in the same place at the time), and could not continue doing his professional job. So sensitivity to computer-screen light is a personal characteristic, as is how much constitutes over-exposure to it, and is also something that could affect negatively someone’s life as a whole.

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    • #210995 Reply

      AskWoody Lounger

      This might be useful to Mac users:


      I am trying it out in my new-ish MacBook Pro laptop.

    • #211000 Reply


      Elly, from #post-210993, if you were asking of sunglasses or cheaters having standards, Wikipedia describes standards for USA, EU, and Australia here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunglasses#Standards

      A point about unrated sunglasses that also relates to backlit LCD in dark environs. If the total ambient light level is low, the human iris relaxes to open the pupil to its maximum diameter. Photography buffs and amateur astronomers would know more about aperture size and its effect on volume of radiation received. It is this condition with a wide open pupil that you are most vulnerable to the dangerous wavelengths. So a tint that relaxes the eye, but does not block UV wavelengths does more damage that going without the cheaters altogether. Then you would naturally have pinpoint pupils and squint to reduce the amount of light received, in all wavelengths including the dangerous ones.

      4 users thanked author for this post.
    • #211017 Reply


      We tried LED lighting in one room about 4 years ago, it became the least used room whenever the light was on. It certainly appeared a very warm yellow, more so than a 2700k CFL.

      A family friend had recently been diagnosed with macular degeneration and contacted me to assist finding a specific BENQ computer monitor recommended by her specialist to minimise low blue light.

      I found the monitor for her and continued looking into low blue light. Some of the things I discovered is that LEDs push 450nm. This wavelength suppresses melatonin production, so you wake up at sunrise and feel drowsy after sunset. Exposure at night affects circadian rhythm & which likely compromises immune system. It is also the reason for the yellowing effect that eventually results in cataracts, the effect is actually your bodies way of filtering the wavelength. So young children and older people after cataract surgery are more vulnerable to exposure. Wearing yellow glasses (that block it) or changing their home lighting to yellow Bug lights (that don’t emit it) reported to have helped many.

      Exposure to the wavelength is normal during the day, but should be avoided during the night.

      We put a 2700k (warm white) CFL in that room and soon things went back to normal. Then we tried a yellow Bug CFL for a side lamp, further improvement. So now we have 2700k CFLs in all the ceiling lights (intermittent use), yellow Bug CFLs in most of the side lamps around the house (which is the typical evening lighting). We also have a couple of desk lamps with 2700k CFLs for occasional use.

      See: http://www.lifesciencesite.com/lsj/life0901/072_8366life0901_477_482.pdf

      Also, the breakthrough in LED lighting that made them bright enough to use as home lighting was when they boosted the 450nm wavelength, they are supposed to actually emit 2 parallel wavelengths. Apparently, if you get purple LED Christmas lights & walk 30m away you won’t see any purple lights at all, it appears there’s only blue and red lights. I avoid LEDs so haven’t tried it, but some in the US swear it’s so (they were across the road and couldn’t believe their eyes).

      When you were a kid lying out in the sun, did you ever cover you eyes for several minutes so it was totally black, when you finally opened them everything appeared washed-out and blueish? Apparently that’s what it actually looks like outside, but our brain photoshops the image.

      See: https://topdocumentaryfilms.com/do-you-see-what-i-see/

      Guessing some of you may never take me seriously again.


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      • #211037 Reply

        AskWoody Lounger

        Thanks for the comments on choice of type of indoors lighting — although bug lumps may be a bit too much yellow for some of us. Moving away from incandescent bulbs might have been good for energy consumption and, because the longer-lasting types now in use also need less frequent replacement, using them is, over time, cheaper as well. But the quality of their light is another story. Fortunately, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) now include some types that shed a warmer light with more red and less blue, more like the incandescent bulbs did, and more like nocturnal artificial illumination has been since the earliest times, when people lit their nights first with fires and then with torches and later still, with oil lamps and candles, before  light bulbs came into universal use wherever electricity was available. So those warmer CFLs are better physiologically, for the eyes, and psychologically, for our feeling of well-being.

        Light-emitting diodes, on the other hand, are still for the most part not only too intense on the blue end of the visible spectrum, but also too harsh overall and, particularly for older people, way too glaring for comfort. This is an issue now that LED headlamps are becoming standard in all new cars. People might feel safer if they can see better and further ahead with LED headlamps when driving at night, but the risks of blinding incoming drivers, particularly older ones, is also greater, so the balance is not necessarily on the side of greater safety for all concerned.

        Interesting observation about the way the spectrum of at least some LED light peaks at the red and blue ends of the visible spectrum.

        About that documentary you gave a link to and whether I still will take you seriously: if you happened to be a man (“Anonymous” does not give one much of a clue about that) I shall continue to take you seriously, unless you start showing up dressed in an all-red suit to increase your self-confidence. Men that are not rock stars or some such, dressed in bright-red office or formal clothing, unlike sportsmen wearing their teams’ colors in their playing togs, are going to look, in our day and age and unlike in some other historical periods, like silly show offs that are trying too hard to get people’s attention…

        • This reply was modified 3 months ago by  OscarCP.
        • #211046 Reply


          My understanding is that LEDs push the blue end (450nm), the blue and red of the purple LED Christmas lights is that the wavelengths are at the opposite ends of the visible spectrum (so it’s easier to observe at only 30m) closer wavelengths would need much farther away to see them as separate colours.

          Regards the CFL Bug lamps… 13W each and there are several of them, so the house is comfortably illuminated with a very pleasant atmosphere, the 2700k ceiling lights are always there for extra light. It does appear we sleep better and have fewer health issues, not very scientific is it?

          I must apologise for the documentary (Do You See What I See?) link, I have it on DVD and was trying to share the insightful info contained, especially in the last half, I’ve returned now as we just played the link and it’s a teaser that just lets you down, again apologies for that.

          Here’s the BBC page for it: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-14421303

          It came up on TV about 6 months after we changed back to all CFLs, the parts about how it actually looks outside, the tribes that see certain shades of blue and green indistinguishable (who’s right, us or them?), and cool trick at the end (that only works once) meant keeping it on DVD.

          I’ve looked and looked and that 15min teaser is all I can find that actually plays anything.

          I was able to find a TED from 2 years before the BBC Horizon documentary, sadly the 3 things I mentioned above aren’t included, but still interesting: https://www.ted.com/talks/beau_lotto_optical_illusions_show_how_we_see?language=en


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          • #211112 Reply

            AskWoody Lounger

            Unfortunately, “Horizon” programs cannot be streamed from outside the UK. Wished that they were, as some are simply magnificent.

            This, I would imagine, is the result of some arcane international agreements or else of equally arcane national communications/telecom policies. These restrictions on streaming videos outside the country they originate from, are widespread.

            1 user thanked author for this post.
            • #211121 Reply

              AskWoody Lounger

              @oscarcp re#211112

              “Unfortunately, “Horizon” programs cannot be streamed from outside the UK.”

              Try a VPN

              1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #211068 Reply


      See Wikipedia article: Phoebus Cartel.

      If you can get halogen lightbulbs, you might be better of with those. (Not the downlights, can cause fires). Also, check with your electrician for exempted incandescent lightbulbs. Remember, they are not actually making any more incandescent bulbs now. Might be worth stockpiling these and the regular halogen lightbulbs.

      For Windows, use f.lux. It makes a huge difference.

      3 users thanked author for this post.
      • #211075 Reply


        Interesting about Phoebus Cartel, makes some of the things I read 4 years ago suggesting the LED manufactures already knew about the health risks of pushing the 450nm wavelength and they’ll be keeping it quiet until everyone’s using them and returned their investment several times over, before they offer their next product expertly marketed as the expensive, perfect solution to these unforeseen side effects…


      • #211567 Reply

        AskWoody Lounger

        You can no longer buy “regular” incandescent bulbs (60 watts, 75 watts, etc.), but you can still buy “specialty” bulbs that are incandescent, for example three-way 30-70-100 bulbs and 25-watt bathroom-mirror bulbs. A couple of weeks ago I was at the hardware store and they’re still selling 65W incandescent floodlights and spotlights.

        And if you search deeply enough, you can even still buy regular bulbs designated for “industrial” purposes (such as a warehouse ceiling); the difference is that the glass is not frosted, so the light these bulbs emit can be pretty harsh unless it’s covered by a lamp shade or the like.


        • #211577 Reply


          Are these restrictions, and possible cartel activity, isolated to North America? Is it seperate or related to trade agreements like NAFTA?

          Not wishing to pin anyone down, but hoping for input from some of our global readers who use 200V~50Hz. Is the incandescent filament bulb still the standard and widely available? Or did other regions already shift to other lighting before we did?

    • #211600 Reply

      AskWoody Lounger

      Are these restrictions, and possible cartel activity, isolated to North America? Is it seperate or related to trade agreements like NAFTA?

      In the U.S., it was the result of 2006 (2007?) legislation aimed at saving energy and decreasing carbon footprint. It didn’t explicitly ban the household 60W incandescent bulb, but instead set technical standards that it could not meet, with exceptions for “specialty” and “industrial” lighting.

      Other countries have set (or declined to set) their own phaseouts/prohibitions.


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    • #211604 Reply

      AskWoody Lounger

      The main objections to incandescent bulbs have been their inefficient use of electricity and needing much more frequent replacement, compared to the compact fluorescent and LED ones. (They shared both problems with vacuum-tube valves and amplifiers, basically fancy incandescent bulbs that were also replaced, permanently for most applications except high power ones, by the much more durable, energy frugal, not to mention far smaller and cheaper, solid-state transistors and diodes.) Personally, I do not miss them, particularly now that compact fluorescents with truly warmer, less bluish light are widely available.

      The main problem with fluorescents is the usual one, even since there have been fluorescent lights: the use of vaporized mercury as the primary ultra-violet light source that causes the tube’s inner coating to fluoresce and provide the light that actually shines out of it and on us. Mercury is a heavy metal poisonous to the central nervous system, causing, eventually, someone with long-term exposure to become, literally, “as mad as a hatter” (a mercury-based product was used for curing the felt of top hats, back when top hats were  in widespread use). As to LEDs, it seems, from the point of view of this discussion, that they are not the best choice.

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    • #220006 Reply


      The effect of light exposure on mental and physical health has been highlighted by new Australian research that suggests antidepressants could be less effective for night owls than for early risers.
      A study published in the medical journal Chronobiology International investigated responses to antidepressant medication in 1,000 people who were either “morning types” or “evening types” — that is, people who got up early or stayed up late.
      It found a higher number of evening types reported the medication, known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), was not effective at reducing depressive symptoms and suicidal feelings.
      They also switched medication more often.
      Authors of the study, PhD candidate Elise McGlashan and Associate Professor Sean Cain from the Monash Institute of Cognitive and Clinical Neurosciences, said the times of day people were waking up and going to bed was a key factor.
      “We believe that evening types tend to have more irregular schedules. And what these [antidepressant] drugs do is they boost how your body clock responds to light, so if you keep an irregular schedule that will be made worse,” Dr Cain said.
      “In general, evening types tend to be more prone to depression and more resistant to typical treatment. They’re a highly vulnerable group.”
      Dr Cain said night owls tended to have more exposure to light at night and less in the morning, so their 24-hour body clock was out of whack.
      “Recovering from depression and getting efficacy out of antidepressant medication has a lot to do with keeping a highly regular schedule, and really the most important aspect of that schedule is a regular light-dark schedule,” he said.
      The benefits of morning light exposure
      The research also has implications for people without depression or mental health struggles.
      There is growing evidence that shows exposure to artificial light at night — such as from phones, tablet devices and computers — delays the body clock and leads to poor sleep.
      Poor sleep is linked to an array of health problems, including obesity, diabetes and mental health.
      On the flip side, light in the morning can have a significant role in promoting better physical and mental health.
      “The more light you get throughout the day would be associated with greater health benefits, but the other side of it is avoiding light at night,” Dr Cain said.
      “Your body is composed of thousands of clocks — you have a core biological clock in your brain, in your hypothalamus — but you also have clocks in other areas of your brain and throughout all the tissues of your body.
      “When you have a strong external light signal it helps maintain healthy relationships amongst all of the different rhythms in your body.
      “When you start, like evening types tend to do, to have irregular schedules and low morning light exposure, all of those internal clocks — the clocks in your heart, liver, pancreas and in your brain — they tend to get misaligned with each other, which leads to poorer health, poorer mood and poorer metabolism.”
      Dr Cain likens the way morning light can boost mood and alertness to caffeine.
      Turn off LED lights and put down your phone at night
      While experts have been pointing to the negative effects of evening screen time on sleep, Dr Cain says another offender is LED lights, which are now found in most homes.
      The blue light they emit tricks your body into thinking it’s still daytime, making you alert and reducing your levels of melatonin, the hormone that promotes sleep.
      “I don’t use LED lights in my home. I use incandescent light, and that helps you maintain better sleep and not disturb your rhythms because you’re highly sensitive to light at night,” Dr Cain said.
      “Even if the light appears low or not very bright, it can have a huge effect on that internal clock.”
      Dr Cain said if people refused to reduce their phone and screen use at night they should at least use red-tinting apps like Nightshift or F.lux to reduce the amount of blue light emitted by their devices.
      “I believe in 10 years time we’re going to appreciate how much damage we’ve been doing to ourselves with phones at night,” he said.
      “We’re also finding that disturbing one’s rhythms also tends to lead to greater weight gain.”
      Keep your bedtime and alarm clock consistent
      Julia Stone, a PhD candidate at Monash University, is researching the effects of shift work on circadian rhythm, and how light affects the body clock.
      Shift workers have been shown to be more susceptible to obesity and poor food choices.
      But irregular sleep patterns, even in people who work nine to five and who might stay up late and sleep in on weekends, or who sometimes stay up past their bedtime during the week, can have far-reaching consequences.
      “We know there are impacts on mental performance, on alertness, sleep problems, we see metabolic problems, increased incidence of some cancers — for instance, breast cancer,” she said.
      “Obviously if your eyes are closed and you’re asleep, you’re not going to be able to get that light, so when you’re sleeping in for a weekend … we tend to see a phase delay, so people’s body clocks are set later.
      “So getting that morning light after a late night like that is going to be important to stabilise your body clock to keep it regular, and keep your sleep regular.”

      From: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-19/antidepressants-less-effective-for-night-owls/9601560


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    • #220043 Reply

      AskWoody Lounger

      There are non-incandescent bulbs that have a comfortable (and comforting) rosy-golden tinge similar to incandescent ones. One of them is lighting my desk as I type this in a particularly gloomy, cloudy morning; it is a compact fluorescent.

    • #211534 Reply


      Quite a few OS’s have a Night Light feature now, in Linux it’s pretty much anything Gnome (Settings > Devices > Night Light), and I think even Win10 1803 has similar.

      4 years ago it was all conspiracy theory, now not so much…


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    • #211619 Reply

      AskWoody MVP

      Linux Mint has Redshift, which does the same thing.  I don’t know if it is added by Mint or if it is also in Ubuntu variants (the main version is GNOME, so it might have theirs), but if it isn’t there, it should certainly be simple enough to add it.

      Group L (Linux): KDE Neon User Edition 5.14.3 (based on Ubuntu 18.04) + Windows 7 in Virtualbox VM

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