How tech devices cause ag­ing

Why our screen time is tak­ing a ma­jor toll on our skin


Ev­ery­one knows the dan­gers of ex­po­sure to ul­travi­o­let (UV) rays, but there are now talks of an emerg­ing threat in the form of High En­ergy Vis­i­ble (HEV) light. Known as blue light, it is also emit­ted by the sun, like UV light. The sur­pris­ing news is that HEV is preva­lent not just out­doors but also in the con­fines of our of­fices, salas, bed­rooms—pretty much any place where dig­i­tal devices are turned on.

Blame com­puter screens, tablets, smart phones, and tele­vi­sion sets. Al­though the dam­ag­ing ef­fects of HEV are cu­mu­la­tive through the years, it may ac­tu­ally be worse than UV light as it pen­e­trates more deeply into the skin.

Con­sid­ered as a silent and longterm ag­ing wave­length, HEV does not gen­er­ate the im­me­di­ate ery­thema (the su­per­fi­cial red­den­ing of the skin) trig­gered by UV, but it may in­duce car­cino­gen­e­sis and pho­toag­ing (ac­cel­er­ated pre­ma­ture ag­ing of the skin). It can also af­fect the skin’s in­flam­ma­tory sys­tem and its heal­ing process. Be­cause of the im­mense amount of free rad­i­cals gen­er­ated through ex­po­sure to HEV light, an­tiox­i­dants work harder to fight th­ese free rad­i­cals to pre­vent fur­ther cell and tis­sue dam­age, and are then nat­u­rally con­sumed faster. With­out th­ese an­tiox­i­dants, the heal­ing process will take longer. The re­duc­tion of strength in the heal­ing process leads to over­all skin ag­ing and un­even pig­men­ta­tion.

As if sun ex­po­sure isn’t al­ready enough to cause wrinkles, who would have thought that count­less hours on the In­ter­net could ac­tu­ally add years to our skin? Be­cause SPF and UVA spec­trum sun­screen can only min­i­mally pro­tect the skin against HEV light, the best way to pre­vent fur­ther skin dam­age is to lessen our screen time. Un­like the sun which we can’t com­pletely es­cape from even on a cloudy day, we can set aside and veer away from our com­put­ers and smart phones.

Re­mem­ber the days when we didn’t check our smart phones ev­ery five min­utes? We have to re­live those days and put so­cial me­dia in the back seat if we want to look younger. The good news is that when we set our smart phones aside, at least we can gen­er­ate a real “like” in­stead—a face-to-face and per­sonal com­ment on our youth­ful look­ing skin.

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