J Biomed Phys Eng. 2018 Dec; 8(4): 447–452.
Published online 2018 Dec 1.
Since the early days of human life on the Earth, our skin has been exposed to different levels of light. Recently, due to inevitable consequences of modern life, humans are not exposed to adequate levels of natural light during the day but they are overexposed to relatively high levels of artificial light at night. Skin is a major target of oxidative stress and the link between aging and oxidative stress is well documented. Especially, extrinsic skin aging can be caused by oxidative stress. The widespread use of light emitting diodes (LEDs) and the rapidly increasing use of smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers have led to a significant rise in the exposure of human eyes to short-wavelength visible light. Recent studies show that exposure of human skin cells to light emitted from electronic devices, even for exposures as short as 1 hour, may cause reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, apoptosis, and necrosis. The biological effects of exposure to short-wavelength visible light in blue region in humans and other living organisms were among our research priorities at the Ionizing and Non-ionizing Radiation Protection Research Center (INIRPRC). Today, there is a growing concern over the safety of the light sources such as LEDs with peak emissions in the blue light range (400-490 nm). Recent studies aimed at investigating the effect of exposure to light emitted from electronic device on human skin cells, shows that even short exposures can increase the generation of reactive oxygen species. However, the biological effects of either long-term or repeated exposures are not fully known, yet. Furthermore, there are reports indicating that frequent exposure to visible light spectrum of the selfie flashes may cause skin damage and accelerated skin ageing. In this paper we have addressed the different aspects of potential effects of exposure to the light emitted from smartphones’ digital screens as well as smartphones’ photoflashes on premature aging of the human skin. Specifically, the effects of blue light on eyes and skin are discussed. Based on current knowledge, it can be suggested that changing the spectral output of LED-based smartphones’ flashes can be introduced as an effective method to reduce the adverse health effects associated with exposure to blue light.