Grants awarded

Human sensitivity to short-wavelength light in non-image-forming vision: toward a mechanistic understanding of the impact of blue light on sleep and circadian rhythms

Grantholder:

Dr Manuel Spitschan

University of Oxford

United Kingdom

Blue light emitted from smartphones, tablets and televisions affects our bodies by delaying our sleep timing and changing our moods. This is thought to be mediated by about 30,000 cells in our retinas containing the photopigment melanopsin which prefers light for shorter (blue) wavelengths. Very little is known about how these cells interact with the light-sensitive cone cells. Studies have suggested that there is a ‘tug of war’ between melanopsin cells and short-wavelength cones in controlling the size of the pupils, suggesting these two blue-sensitive systems might have different roles.

This research will look specifically at the role of these cells in unconscious, non-image-forming vision.