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It turns out your father was right when he said: "Stop sitting so close to the television or you'll go blind."
Not every dad said that exactly, but researchers at the University of Toledo said that staring at screens can permanently damage your eyesight. They say long periods of time exposed to blue light -- the kind from smartphones, laptops, and televisions -- can lead to blindness.
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In Scientific Reports, the researchers said blue light basically poisons the eye's light-sensitive cells. They discovered the problem by exposing living cells to various types of light.
Blue light triggers "reactions that generate poisonous chemical molecules in photoreceptor cells," they said. The most serious results could be macular degeneration, which is the leading cause blindness in the United States.
"We are being exposed to blue light continuously, and the eye's cornea and lens cannot block or reflect it," said Dr. Ajith Karunarathne in a press release.
Macular degeneration is an incurable eye disease that ends with the death of photoreceptor cells in the retina. It typically starts in people in their 50s or 60s, gradually blurring their vision until they cannot see.
According to reports, about 11 million people in the US have some sort of macular degeneration. Brightfocus Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports research, says the number will likely double by 2050.
Karunarathne, a professor at the University of Toledo, said people should avoid browsing on smartphones, laptops and other devices in the dark. Outside, they should wear sunglasses that can filter UV and blue light.
Or they can do what their dads said and turn off the television.
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