Chair: Dr. Celia Sánchez-Ramos, Professor at the Department of Optometry and Vision, Universidad Complutense de Madrid.
The relation between macular degeneration-retinal damage and exposure to light has been known since the middle of the 20th century. Nevertheless, in the last 5 years, the advent of new technology LED along with its massive use in screens of electronic devices (smartphones, tablets, laptops…) has made phototoxicity the main field of our research.
The studies conducted by Dr. Sanchez-Ramos leading Research at Complutense University of Madrid have shown that LED devices emit 5 times more toxic light than light reflected by paper or emitted by the older-style CRT monitors.
In-vitro experiments in which human donated retinal pigmentary epithelium cells were exposed to 36-hour circadian cycles of direct LED light of different intensities have been forceful: without protection, cell death amounted to 93%. However, when a protective element was placed between the cells and LED light, the survival rate of cells increased by 90%.
This discovery is the result of more than 100 researchers from different fields: Optics, Anatomy, Surgery, Experimental Ophthalmology, Embryology, Optometry, Optical Physics, Biology, Statistics and Vision Science, as well as many retina experts and professionals in the field of mobile devices and consumer technology.
These important research advancements have led to the creation of a portfolio of patents intended for eye care prevention. New prevention eye care products are being developed for new applications.
This technology will become a standard for the industry which will create a more sustainable and responsible mass market for the intensive use of these devices.
The aim of this project is to broaden the spectrum of our discoveries and patents and enhance our findings with collaborations within the Harvard ecosystem. Specifically, in the fields of Computer Vision Syndrome (C.V.S.) and sleep disorders for the Medical arena and for the prevention and Public Health.
New experiments developed by the mentioned Complutense group in collaboration with the research group led by Prof. Vega Álvarez of the University of Oviedo (Department of Morphology and Cell Bioloy, SINPOS Group) ratify the irreversible damage to the eyes that can be caused by light emitted from electronic device screens. The results were presented publicly at RCC for the Harvard and MIT scientific communities in January 2017. The event counted on the participation of two Nobel Prize laureates.
The methodology was the following: the rat cages were surrounded by 6 marketed tablets that were turned on for 16 hours and turned off for 8 hours a day. The time of experimentation was 3 consecutive months. The experiment was carried out in less damaging conditions to animals. Specifically, the animals were young, with pigmented retina similar to that of a human, exposed for 3 months, and tablets screens that were selected are available for customers in the market (they emit less than the screens of laptops or smartphones). The animals were divided into three groups: some exposed to normal light; the second group exposed to tablets that can be purchased in stores and the third ones exposed to the same type of tablets but with Reticare protectors that absorb the adequate amount of Blue light defined by the research team over the last 5 years. The results were surprising, animals exposed to screens without Reticare had a 23% cell death in the retina whereas in those whose light was filtered by Reticare Intensive no significant differences were detected in cell death versus control. This is the first experiment where animals are exposed in order to check the effects on the retina of the current screens that we use every day. Both the harmful effect of light and the photoprotective effect of Reticare are tested on animals.
Extrapolation may be done taking into account that the average lifespan of these animals is 8-10 years while that of humans in the developed world is between 70-80 years and were exposed to LED screen for 3 months.
The calculation of ocular lighting according to the user, device used, use distance and pupil diameter is based on the premise that LED screens emit light with a high proportion of short wavelength, a very energetic visible radiation that can produce damage to the eyes and to other structures of the body.
The methodology implied emissions of LED screens of different marketed devices were measured and the amount of high energy light that reaches the eye was calculated for different pupil diameters.
As far as the results are concerned, the amount of light that reaches the eye when they use a smartphone is 7 times higher than when they use a computer. Children receive 3 times more light than an adult who uses the same device, due to the shortest distance of use.