We are living in an era where living without a device is hard, and hence we spend at least 4 hours a day in front of the screen. It can be smartphones, tablets, flat screen televisions, and laptops. With increased exposure, our eyes are also subjected to far more stress. The manufacturing of new technologies that use screens is growing. However, we should also keep in mind how staring at the screens of these devices can impact our eyes.
Researchers from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California are researching to find the appropriate answer to this question. The research is focused on finding the impact of screens on our sleep, more specifically in ways in which the cells in the eyes are affected. The study will focus on the ambient light we are exposed to and respond to this exposure by modifying the biorhythms. The team looked at the production of the cells in mice and found that the response to light exposure from the cell was not consistent. This implies that retinal cell regeneration was not sustained. The team is also hoping to explore the reasons behind this.
The researchers explained ipRGCs and said, “They are indispensable for non-image-forming visual responses that sustain under prolonged illumination.” This means that a whole host of sleep-related disorders can rise or they can worsen by the extra exposure. Ludovic Mure, staff scientist and the first author of the paper explained why ipRGCs are crucial for how we sleep at night. He said, “Compared to other light-sensing cells in the eye, melanopsin cells respond as long as the light lasts, or even a few seconds longer. That’s critical because our circadian clocks are designed to respond only to prolonged illumination.”
When we experience insomnia, jet lag, or disturbed circadian rhythms, we connect these with lack of sleep and stress. However, the real problem might be spending extra time watching the screens. Salk Professor Satchin Panda, the senior author of the study, said, “We are continuously exposed to artificial light, whether from screen time, spending the day indoors or staying awake late at night. This lifestyle causes disruptions to our circadian rhythms and has deleterious consequences on health.” The research shows that our eyes are suffering the most in the era of technology. The fever of using the devices is going to increase in the coming years however it will be great if people become more cautious with the usage as well.