Prolonged exposure to cell phones and computers may reduce lifespan, according to a new study.
Exposure of the eye to light can disrupt the circadian rhythm which in turn can “cause or worsen chronic disease”, according to a Buck Institute research, reported by Mail Online.
A circadian rhythm is a natural process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle.
Since the eyes are exposed to the outside world, the immune defences there are critically active, which can lead to inflammation, which, when present for a long time, can cause or worsen a variety of common chronic diseases, Pankaj Kapahi, a professor at the institute, said.
Staring at computer and phone screens, and being exposed to light pollution well into the night are conditions very disturbing for circadian clocks, Kapahi said.
It messes up protection for the eye and that could have consequences beyond just the vision, damaging the rest of the body and the brain.
“We always think of the eye as something that serves us to provide vision. We don’t think of it as something that must be protected to protect the whole organism,” he said.
The research also found that the genes in the eye influence lifespan.
Kapahi and researcher Brian Hodge set up experiments showing that keeping fruit flies in constant darkness extended their lifespan.
“That seemed very strange to us. We had thought flies needed the lighting cues to be rhythmic, or circadian,” Hodge said.
He discovered that the rhythmic genes that were activated the most with dietary restriction all seemed to be coming from the eye, specifically from photoreceptors, the specialised neurons in the retina of the eye that respond to light.
The research paper said there is a lot to be understood about the role the eye plays in the overall health and lifespan of an organism, including how the eye regulates lifespan.