Last year we learned that some patients, who were evaluated for a stroke or transient ischemic attack when they had come to the ER complaining of recurrent “temporary blindness” after checking their smartphone in the dark were suffering from a phenomenon, known as ‘smartphone blindness.’ This has also been experienced by many of us when we have the sensation of dimmed vision or poor visual acuity, feeling punished for peeking at our email when we should be sleeping.

 

But now we have a study suggesting vision loss could be permanent due to the blue light being emitted from our smartphones or laptops.

Researchers from the University of Toledo found blue light will react with retinal, an active form of Vitamin A, that can damage the nearby cells they are designed to stimulate when creating sight.

Researcher Kasun Ratnayake states, “If you shine blue light on retinal, the retinal kills photoreceptor cells as the signaling molecule on the membrane dissolves,” and since these cells do not regenerate they are gone for good.

Although a blue-light induced retinal activated cell could prove useful when fighting cancer, this finding is worrisome as millions of people, including children, look at their smartphone and tablet in the dark, depending on the blue light more and more to see their screens.

blue light danger for retina

What is blue light?

Sunlight is made up of the spectrum of colors including red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple.  Blue light is a light along the spectrum that has shorter wavelengths and more energy than red, which has longer wavelengths. We receive most of our blue light exposure from the sun but we can be exposed as well through our smart devices, LED lights and CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs.

 

spectrum

IMAGE FROM PREVENTBLINDNESS.ORG

Smartphone use linked to retinal detachment

Studies surfaced a few years ago where great lengths of smartphone use can cause retinal detachment.  In these cases the layer of the retina which focuses images, detaches from the back of the eye, causing serious vision loss. Though there are treatments, if not treated early can cause permanent blindness in the affected eye since the retina loses its blood and oxygen supply when detached. A woman from China had been using her smartphone for 2-3 hours in the dark each night when this occurred.

Smartphones have also been linked to myopia, near-sightedness, and sleeping disorders as the blue light emitted from the screen can disrupt melatonin production.

A recent study found that 30% of adults spend more than 9 hours a day using their smartphone. Physicians recommend avoiding extended use, adjust settings to black text on white background, and with this recent case study, use both eyes to look at the screen when using the phone at night.

Smartphone, Street Lamp Blue Light May Increase Risk of Cancer

A study from the University of Exeter and Barcelona Institute for Global Health finds blue light exposure at night-time to increase the risk of breast and prostate cancer.

Blue light is emitted from artificial lighting, such as LED’s and smart devices, and has been linked in the past to cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Why?  Scientists believe the blue wavelengths in the light disrupt our circadian rhythm, or our body’s biological clock, by suppressing the secretion of melatonin. Poor sleep, and unpredictable body cycles, can affect our metabolism, hence our weight, diabetes risk and cancer risk.

In this study, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, researchers reviewed data of more than 4000 patients, between the ages of 20 and 85, from 11 different geographical regions. They found exposure to blue light at night doubled the risk of prostate cancer in men, and increased breast cancer risk in women by 1.5.

The Sun reports study author Dr. Alejandro Sánchez de Miguel is urging to reduce exposure to outside street lights and use orange wavelength light rather than blue.

“The take-home message is: Use warm orange lights where possible, and shutters and blinds to block street light.

“Also, our findings suggest reducing your night-time exposure to smartphones and tablets could help cut cancer risk.

How to protect your eyes by minimizing blue light exposure

The recommendation to not use your smart device at night may not be very practical for many.  So here are some additional tips:

Increasing the size of the font helps your eyes since they don’t need to strain as much to read.  Try to look at your smartphone with a distance of 1 1/2 feet. Blinking often helps rest the eyes as well and keeps them lubricated and moist.

Screen time should be limited in the evenings.  Avoid computer/phone screens at least 2-3 hours before bed.

Although LED light bulbs are more energy-efficient, bedroom lighting may need to be swapped for softer bulbs.

If the weather permits, getting some night air and watching the stars may help stimulate one’s melatonin, allowing him/her to get sleepy.

Blue-blocking glasses may help limit exposure if night computer work cannot be avoided.

Additionally there are apps that allow a blue light filter on one’s phone screen.

Finally its good to use the 20,20,20 rule.  After every 20 minutes of use, look away at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.  This may help avoid eye strain from excessive smartphone use.

 

----

 

Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news, her views and opinions, medical or otherwise, if expressed, are her own. Doctor Wachs is an MD,  FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician.  The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

 

Published in Health

Doesn’t it always seem like your smartphone battery starts dying when you’re due for an upgrade? Same with your car, right? Once the warranty is up something goes wrong. Well, fear not. There’s a way to make your smartphone last longer than you will. A little website called iFixit.com that started as a mine for DIY tech tutorials has grown into the DIY tech preservation tool and parts shop. It’s the first shopping experience that’s nearly brought me tears of joy.

 

I’ve long been a user of iFixit but seldom had reason to pay them. All I needed was information. I once revived a long dead Apple iBook and managed to do some of my favorite writing on it thanks to the tutorials at iFixit. I used iFixit again to repair my dad’s theater projector. It just needed a good cleaning, and iFixit told me exactly what I needed to remove and in what order to thoroughly clean it.

 

Now iFixit is not only supplying DIY tech tutorials online but the tools necessary to preserve your technology. I have an Apple iPhone 6 and just blew off Verizon after a dozen years as a customer. I got a month’s worth of Straight Talk and figured I’d deal with it on a month-to-month basis for the first time. Verizon did its best to retain my loyalty by lowering my bill to $55 per month for 5 GB of 4G LTE data and unlimited talk and text. Straight Talk is $45 per month for 5 GB of 4G LTE data and includes unlimited talk, text, and data, albeit at slower speeds after 5 GB. Straight Talk also doesn’t allow tethering, which means you can’t get on the web with your laptop using your phone as a wifi hotspot. I did that a lot with Verizon, and apparently it does a number on your battery’s life. Now there’s no reason to worry.

 

I simply started by checking prices for iPhone 6 batteries on Ebay. Everything was under $10, so I was immediately excited. But then I Googled “does iFixit have tutorials for replacing an iPhone 6 battery,” and then I was nearly moved to tears and raised a fist in the air – just like the iFixit logo, minus the wrench.

 

It was the most beautiful catalog photo and product I had ever seen. Sears has nothing on iFixit. And the transaction was most enjoyable because the order form uses Doc Brown’s address in Back to the Future as an example. The only thing that could have been better about the transaction is if the billing address example was Marty McFly’s address in Hill Valley.

 

This little box with the big fist is delivered to your door and includes everything you need to replace your iPhone battery for $45 after shipping. You might remember I told you the cost of a replacement iPhone 6 battery was under $10, but the tools necessary to replace the battery are invaluable and most certainly worth $35. Then, when your battery goes bad again in two years, you can replace it for less than $10 rather than spend $750 for the trendiest phone that’s exactly like the last one, and the one before that.

 

iFixit is changing the game with this product offering. I suggest you take advantage of it. You can find parts, tools and tutorials for Android devices, Apple computers, iPads, iPods, Amazon Kindle, GoPro cameras and game consoles. Don’t let a corporation control your pocketbook. In fact, grab the nearest tool and put a fist in the air to let them know your dollars will be awarded to those who allow DIYers like us to take advantage of our willingness to do the work. Take back your right to repair.

 

Editor's Note: This article has not been sponsored by iFixit. An update follows.

 

My iPhone 6 battery replacement kit arrived in a reasonably-sized box with all the necessary tools to complete the battery replacement, but some scary information was also included. A card inside the box said my state (Minnesota) is considering "Right to Repair" legislation. I was scared because at first I figured corporate lobbyists had convinced crooked politicians to make sure we can't repair our devices. Then I wondered why we as consumers would need to pass legislation to protect our right to repair. We paid for the product. What we do with it after paying for it is our prerogative and ours alone. But, of course, corporations would love to force us consumers to buy one of their new devices every two years or so. I can understand a corporation voiding a warranty for opening a device. Apple is famous for this. There was a warning on my old Mac Pro about opening the case. I proceeded to open it anyways and add a 1 TB hard drive.

 

"STAND UP FOR YOUR RIGHT TO REPAIR," the card reads, asking me to visit repair.org/stand-up. Doing so disturbed me further, as eight states were listed as considering Right to Repair legislation, which again, I feel should be unnecessary. Nebraska, New York, Minnesota, Kansas, Massachusetts, Wyoming, Illinois and Tennessee were all listed as considering Right to Repair legislation. Some Right to Repair legislation has already passed in Massachusetts, and some legislation has had strong opposition from corporate lobbyists in New York. I urge you to visit this site regularly to easily tell your state's representatives why you support the right to repair your own stuff.

 

Now, back to the task at hand, which is replacing my iPhone 6 battery. I had to let my battery's charge get below 25 percent in order to start working on it because a fully charged battery is more likely to catch fire when punctured. The folks at iFixit made this very clear, and since there was no tutorial included in the box and I only had access to the iFixit website through my iPhone, I took screenshots of each step of the iPhone 6 battery replacement tutorial and uploaded them to my offline laptop.

 

Once the battery's charge was below 25 percent, I removed the two screws at the bottom of the iPhone near the Lightning power input. In no time at all I had access to the guts of my iPhone, and with the removal of just a few screws, which I was sure to keep in separate plastic bags labeled with their correct location. The whole task would have taken less than an hour if not for one of the adhesive strips under the battery ripping. I had to buy a $10 hair dryer at Walmart and heat the back side of the iPhone directly under the battery because I didn't have an iFixit iOpener. It worked wonderfully, and the battery gave way after just a few seconds of heating.

 

The hardest part was applying the new adhesive strips to the knew battery, but I managed to install the replacement battery with no trouble. I followed iFixit's instructions to calibrate my new battery by using it to lower its charge below 30 percent. I then plugged my iPhone in and let it charge uninterrupted until it was fully charged. Then I did a little research into how to preserve the life of my new battery.

 

Business Insider provided a great guide for battery preservation, revealing that leaving your battery plugged in after it's fully charged is really bad for your battery. I and most of you probably charge your battery at night and unplug it in the morning. Don't.

The story also warns of letting your battery's charge get too low because charging from 0 percent to 100 percent puts a lot of stress on the battery. In fact, you should never charge your phone's battery to 100 percent, with the initial charge being the exception.

The revelation that rocked my world the most was that it's not bad for your phone's battery to receive partial charges throughout the day. I was under the impression that lithium-ion batteries had a lifespan consisting of a certain number of charges. That is not the case. It's actually recommended that "charging your phone when it loses 10 percent of its charge would be the best-case scenario," according to Battery University.

 

Editor's Note: If you purchase something at iFixit.com and enter the coupon code GOGONZOFIX you'll receive $5 off your order. This discount is brought to you by Go Gonzo Journal.

 

--

 

If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: The Tech Night Owl

Published in Opinion