Protective effects of blue light-blocking shades on phototoxicity in human ocular surface cells

BMJ Open Ophthalmol. 2019 May 28;4(1):e000217. doi: 10.1136/bmjophth-2018-000217. eCollection 2019.


Objective: Blue light hazards for retina and ocular surface have been repeatedly described and many protective methods are introduced for retina; however, no study has been conducted on ocular surface protection. The purpose of this in vitro study was to examine phototoxicity and shade protection after blue light irradiation in primary human cells of corneal surface origin.

Methods and analysis: Primary human cells of corneal surface origin were obtained from eye bank eyes. After blue light irradiation (405 nm) of these cells for 3 min, and a further 24 hours' incubation, surviving viable cells were assessed by the methyl thiazolyl tetrazolium assay. Simultaneously, cell viability was determined in wells covered by ultraviolet and blue light shades.

Results: Under subconfluent conditions, viable cells decreased by around 50% after blue light irradiation, compared with control cells without irradiation. The blue light phototoxicity was not blocked by the control shade, but the ultraviolet-blocking and blue light-blocking shades protected the cells from phototoxicity, producing a 30%-40% reduction (ultraviolet) and 15%-30% reduction (blue light) in viable cells.

Conclusion: These results indicate that blue light injures ocular surface cells and the cells are protected from damage by a shade. We recommend blue light protection to maintain ocular health, especially in high-risk populations, such as people with dry eye, contact lens users, the malnourished and the elderly.

Keywords: conjunctiva; cornea; ocular surface.