One day soon we may be able to treat jet lag using only eye drops

eye drops for jet lag 45706247 l
Andriy Popov/123RF
Researchers at the U.K.’s University of Edinburgh have discovered a new link between the eye and the human body clock.

This takes the form of a group of newfound cells in the retina which send information about light changes to the suprachiasmatic nucleus, the part of the brain responsible for circadian rhythms.

While links between the eyes and our natural body clocks have been known for a long time, the exact details of this relationship are unknown. The body’s biological clock is synchronized to changes in light and dark and plays an important role in maintaining everything from brain activity and regulation of body temperature to protecting against depression and gastrointestinal problems.

In a study by the researchers, lab rats were examined after the selective activation or destruction of these cells in the retina, which contain vasopressin, the neurohypophysial hormone that expresses changes after long haul travel or a person switching between day and night shifts. The results — which are described in The Journal of Physiology — showed the vasopressin-expressing cells in the retina play an active role in controlling circadian rhythms.

The scientists working on the project demonstrated that a bright flash of light seen by the rats caused them to release vasopressin and also activated neurons in the brain’s suprachiasmatic nucleus. However, when a vasopressin-blocking compound was injected into brain cells, the rats responded less significantly to light.

So does this lay the groundwork for the possibility that it might one day be possible to overcome jet lag by administering some eye drops? That is one of the goals of the project, but don’t expect it anytime soon.

“Nobody’s started to do anything like that yet,” Mike Ludwig, professor of neurophysiology at the University of Edinburgh, told Digital Trends. “It’s a way that this could go, but we’re not there yet. There’s a lot of work that still needs to be done on the basic research part. You won’t be able to go to the chemist in the next two or three weeks, and buy eye drops when you have a long flight. We’re talking about years, but the opportunity is possibly there.”

Mobile

Is the 5G spectrum harmful to our health? Experts say, 'Don't freak out'

There's plenty of consumer anxiety about radiofrequency (RF) radiation, specifically around millimeter waves (mmWave) used on 5G networks, but is it based in reality? We asked the FDA to give us its official view on the subject.
Emerging Tech

China’s mind-controlled cyborg rats are proof we live in a cyberpunk dystopia

Neuroscience researchers from Zhejiang University, China, have created a method that allows humans to control the movements of rats using a technology called a brain-brain interface.
Photography

Nikon will bring eye-detection autofocus to the Z6 and Z7 in May

An upcoming firmware update will bring Eye AF to the Nikon Z6 and Z7 -- along with improved autofocus performance in low light. The update will also give the cameras support for the CFexpress format.
Computing

Give your eyes a break with these handy blue light filters

Filtering blue light from your monitor is a great way to make long days of work easier on your eyes, especially when it gets later in the day. You can use ones built into MacOS and Windows, or one of the third-party options.
Emerging Tech

Global Good wants to rid the world of deadly diseases with lasers and A.I.

Global Good, a collaboration between Intellectual Ventures and Bill Gates, aims to eradicate diseases that kill children in developing nations. It tackles difficult problems with high-tech prototypes.
Emerging Tech

Of all the vape pens in the world, these 5 are the best

Vaping concentrates has become significantly more popular, especially among those that use cannabis for medicinal purposes. But don’t use just any vape pen: we found these five devices to be our favorites in 2018.
Emerging Tech

A river of stars one billion years old flows across the southern sky

Astronomers have identified a river of stars flowing across our galaxy and covering most of the southern sky. The estimated 4000 stars that comprise the stream were born together and have been moving together for the last one billion years.
Computing

The HoloLens 2 will be announced at MWC. Here's what we know about it so far

The HoloLens 2 is ripe for an announcement. Here's what Microsoft has revealed so far, what's likely in store for the next generation HoloLens, and everything that we know about this mixed reality headset.
Emerging Tech

Descending at an angle could be key to landing heavier craft on Mars

Landing on Mars is a challenge: The heavier the craft, the more difficult a safe landing becomes. Scientists propose using retropropulsion engines and angling the craft to create a pressure differential to land heavier crafts in the future.
Emerging Tech

Ant-inspired walking robot navigates without GPS by using polarized light

What do you get if you cross Boston Dynamics and Ant-Man? You get Antbot, a robot from the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) which uses ant-like navigation to move around without the aid of GPS.
Emerging Tech

InSight’s heat probe will dig 16 feet beneath the surface of Mars

New images from NASA's InSight mission to Mars have confirmed that the lander succeeded in setting the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package instrument onto the surface, from where a self-hammering spike will burrow downwards.
Emerging Tech

White spots on Ceres are evidence of ancient ice volcanoes erupting

Scientists are pouring over data collected by NASA's Dawn mission to learn about the dwarf planet Ceres and the bright white spots observed at the bottom of impact craters. They believe that these spots are evidence of ice volcanoes.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Grow veggies indoors and shower more efficiently

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

NASA to launch SPHEREx mission to investigate the origins of our universe

NASA is launching an ambitious mission to map the entire sky to understand the origins of the universe. The Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization and Ices Explorer (SPHEREx) mission will launch in 2023.