Oregon State University scientists used fruit flies to study how blue light affects humans


Yujuan Song handles the fruit flies used in the blue light exposure study.

Jaga Giebultowicz

The effects of blue light exposure through our eyes are nothing new. But are there other ways that exposure to blue light affects us? Scientists at Oregon State University used fruit flies to investigate.

Fruit flies have a cell structure similar to humans and one fruit fly day equals one human year. This means that scientists can see the effects they are studying relatively quickly.

After a lifetime of blue light exposure, the fruit flies showed neurodegeneration. Unlike fruit flies, humans have skulls to protect their brains from blue light.

OSU Professor Emeritus Jaga Giebultowicz said that means people may not have the same neurodegeneration. Additionally, a person’s lifespan is not likely to be shortened by exposure to blue light, but the findings still have implications for humans.

“Even relatively weak blue light over time with chronic exposure can have adverse effects,” she said. “Making cells age faster, eventually damaging them so they become cancerous. Just overall, you know, being detrimental to health.

Blue light can be found in things like electronics and ambient light. And with the increasing use of LEDs, our exposure to blue light is also increasing.

Giebultowicz says one way to protect yourself is to use “night mode” on your computer and phones.

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