Spain - DPA
Ever since we have started to become chained to our smartphones and tablets, people have been saying that the waves coming off these devices must be bad for us.
So often laughed off as conspiracy theorists, it now looks more and more like they might not be entirely wrong.
The main perpetrator, however, looks to be the blue light from these electronic devices - and the damage is not insignificant either.
Optical chemistry research from the University of Toledo in Spain has found that the blue light can turn molecules in our eyes into cell killers. This can lead to macular degeneration - an age-related disease that is a leading cause of blindness.
"It's no secret that blue light harms our vision by damaging the eye's retina. Our experiments explain how this happens, and we hope this leads to therapies that slow macular degeneration, such as a new kind of eye drop," says Dr. Ajith Karunarathne, assistant professor in the UT Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.
The research found that the blue light triggers a certain chemical reaction which Karunarathne says is "toxic" for the eye's photoreceptor cells. "Photoreceptor cells do not regenerate in the eye. When they're dead, they're dead for good."
But that's not all. As if the possibility of blindness weren't bad enough, a different study led by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) has found that blue light could be linked to certain types of cancer.
"There is evidence pointing to an association between exposure to artificial light at night ... and breast and prostate cancers," says Manolis Kogevinas, ISGlobal researcher and coordinator of the study.
ISGlobal's research shows that high exposure to blue light increases your risk of developing breast and prostate cancer by between 1.5 and 2-fold.
So can anything be done? Yes.
To protect your eyes from the blue light emitted from the sun, it is important to wear UV sunglasses outside. When it comes to your tablet or your phone, the risk is highest when you look at the screen when your surroundings are dark - so try and avoid doing that as much as possible.
Smartphone and laptop companies like Apple, Microsoft and Google also have blue light filters - so if you have the option, and are concerned about these risks, you should turn on your device's blue light filter.