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How blue light accelerates blindness

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Washington, Aug 9: Are you addicted to your smartphones, laptops and tablets? The blue light emitting from these digital devices can affect your eye’s retina and lead to age-related macular degeneration, according to a research led by a professor of Indian-origin.

Macular degeneration, an incurable eye disease that results in significant vision loss starting on average in a person in his 50s or 60s, is the death of photoreceptor cells in the retina. Those cells need molecules called retinal to sense light and trigger a cascade of signalling to the brain.

The findings showed that blue light exposure causes retinal to trigger reactions that generate poisonous chemical molecules in photoreceptor cells.

“We are being exposed to blue light continuously, and the eye’s cornea and lens cannot block or reflect it,” said Ajith Karunarathne, Assistant Professor, University of Toledo in Ohio, US.

“It’s no secret that blue light harms our vision by damaging the eye’s retina,” he added.

Since photoreceptors, produced in the eye, are useless without retinal, one needs a continuous supply of retinal molecules to see.

“It’s toxic. If you shine blue light on retinal, the retinal kills photoreceptor cells as the signalling molecule on the membrane dissolves,” explained Kasun Ratnayake, doctoral student researcher at the varsity.

“Photoreceptor cells do not regenerate in the eye. When they’re dead, they’re dead for good.”

In the study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, when the team introduced blue light to other cell types in the body, such as cancer cells, heart cells and neurons, they died as a result of the combination with retinal. Blue light alone or retinal without blue light had no effect on cells.

“The retinal-generated toxicity by blue light is universal. It can kill any cell type,” Karunarathne said.

To protect your eyes from the blue light, wear sunglasses that can filter both UV and blue light outside and avoid looking at your cell phones or tablets in the dark, he suggested.

IANS

Health

Number of Zika virus cases reaches 100 in Jaipur

A total of 1,11,825 houses have been screened. Special precautions are being taken in the Zika-affected areas.

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Jaipur, Oct 18 : The number of people infected with the Zika virus has gone up to 100 in Jaipur, officials said on Thursday.

State Chief Secretary D.B. Gupta held a review meeting and directed the officials to carry out anti-larvae activities in educational institutions and administrative buildings in Jaipur.

Veenu Gupta, Chief Secretary (Medicine and Health) said, “Medical teams in Jaipur are carrying out screening and fogging activities. A total of 1,11,825 houses have been screened. Special precautions are being taken in the Zika-affected areas.”

She said that there was no shortage of medicines at health centres. She also directed district officials to monitor the regular availability of medicines and testing equipment in hospitals.

Gupta directed officials to take measures to prevent breeding of mosquitoes in the Rajasthan Police Academy, Police Line and the RAC Battalion.

She asked the Army officials to check the spread of mosquitoes and larvae in their area.

Gupta instructed officials to pay special attention to tourist places such as Hawa Mahal, Jantar Mantar and Albert Hall.

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Zika virus cases reach 72 in Jaipur

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Zika Virus

Jaipur, Oct 15 : The number of people infected with the Zika virus rose to 72 in Jaipur, officials from the health department said on Monday.

The number of people carrying the virus was put out after a review meeting chaired by Additional Chief secretary (Health) Veenu Gupta.

The officials informed that 280 teams were surveying the affected areas by visiting each and every house. Around 96,000 houses had been surveyed till date.

Since Sunday, the health department has started issuing challans against owners of houses where larvae of the mosquito that transmits the virus were found.

The virus is transmitted through the Aedes Aegypti Mosquito. It causes fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, and muscle and joint pain. It is particularly harmful to pregnant women, as it can lead to microcephaly, a condition in which a baby’s head is significantly smaller than expected upon birth.

Till Monday evening, 68 such challans were issued and penalties of Rs 44,000 were imposed.

Screening and anti-larvae measures are continuing in the capital city. The samples are also being collected from those suffering from fever, the officials said.

The people in the affected areas are being advised to temporarily suspend water storage, and the same is being supplied via tankers.

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Internet obsession among adolescents leading to mental disorder: Experts

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Spending excessive time over internet and social media is emerging as a leading cause for mental disorder among adolescents and youths, say medical experts.

“It is seen that youths and teenagers are getting obsessed with mobile phones and computers. They spend most of time either playing games and chatting over social media and get away from the real world,” RK Chadda, HOD Psychiatry and Chief National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC).

According to Dr Rachna Bhargava, Associate Professor, Psychiatry and NDDTC AIIMS, excessive time spent over virtual world is forces youths to remain secluded from reality.

“Individuals develop an imaginary world and tend to confine themselves within that. Youths, especially boys aged between 14-25, have been observed to be more prone to mental disorder,” Bhargava added.

Among early symptoms it is found that a child tends to stop interacting or mingling with other children and creates a distance from family members.

“If a device is being forcefully taken away from a child, it is seen that he or she tends to lose temper and even misbehaves,” Dr Anju Dhawan, NDDTC stated.

Dr Pratap Saran, Psychiatry, AIIMS pointed that the primary reason behind youths falling prey to mobile games or social media addiction is because of lack of parental supervision.

“It is often seen that the parents remain engulfed in their own daily routine work and ignores the child. At times even the parents also fails to understand or realise that a child is developing mental disorder and it further escalates the syndrome,” Dr Saran added.

However, most mental disorder cases remain unattended. Dr Bhargava said the reason behind is that neither the patients nor anyone from their families come up and talk about it to medical experts.

“Most people do not even realise that they are facing mental disorder. Many think it is a stigma to attend a psychiatrist and hesitate to report or talk about the issues. There is quite a gap between psychiatrists and mental disorder patients,” she said.

According to the experts, mental disorder owing to social media and mobile games can be avoided if parents start early supervision.

“The addiction cannot be measured in a particular time frame. It can develop after using even for 3-4 hours of more than 6 hours. It is very important that parents should take their child for outdoor activities, that will help them to keep in pace with the real world,” Dr Chadda mentioned.

The recently concluded National Mental Health Survey of India estimates current prevalence of mental disorders in the age group 18-29 at 7.39 per cent and lifetime prevalence at 9.54 per cent.

AIIMS also organised an event to promote awareness of mental health issues affecting the young people on the occasion of World Mental Health Day which is marked on October 10 every year.

(Somrita Ghosh can be contacted at [email protected])

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