The effects of blue light might not seem like a big deal until you realize just how much exposure you get every day.
Computer screens, televisions, cell phones, tablets, and energy saving lightbulbs emit blue light. During the daytime, light is beneficial to keeping your mind on track, improving reflexes, and elevating mood.
However, after the sun goes down, all that light isn’t a good thing.
Your Eyes Need a Break Urgently
Unlike our ancestors, in developed nations, we have plenty of access to light. It’s a fact we take for granted since light after sunset is something much of the undeveloped world still does not have. How much light and what kind of light we use is something few of us consider.
In regards to visible light, blue is closer to ultraviolet. You probably remember the color spectrum from school – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet (ROY G BIV). Blue light reaches deeper into the eye, has a higher heat signature, is significantly brighter, and causes more ocular damage than lights closer to the red end of the spectrum.
In the Review of Optometry journal, researchers with the University of Alabama School of Optometry discovered that blue light resulted in the greatest amount of retinal cell death. In their paper, they explained, “This cumulative and constant exposure to the blue-violet light is going to…lead to retinal cell death and can in turn lead to AMD [age-related macular deterioration].”
Men and women who specialize in eye health report this side effect of modern light exposure. Optometrists and ophthalmologists around the globe are seeing patients in their 30s and 40s with the eye health of men and women in their 70s.
Closer screens – such as tablets and phones – are damaging the eye health of children who use the technology more than any generation that came before. Consider cases that lower blue light exposure with a soft tint and lower screen brightness as darkness falls.
Protecting vision as early as possible is critical.
Several studies found that lenses tinted with orange help to block blue light from reaching the eyes. Talk to your eye doctor about steps you can take now to preserve your vision. Blue-blocking glasses cost around $80 and are available in prescription and non-prescription varieties.
I spend an unbelievable amount of time on the computer so I’ll have a soft tint added to my glasses when I go for my next eye appointment. I’ll keep those glasses at home, since the orange tint may look a little odd outside.
The Effects of Blue Light on Sleep Quality
Of particular concern is blue light’s effect on your production of melatonin.
Blue light stops your pineal gland (nestled between the two sides of your brain) from making this essential hormone. Too much light sends a signal through your eyes to your brain that you should be awake. Circadian rhythms (your internal biological clock) are altered.
You need melatonin. Melatonin does more than ensure good sleep.
It is a powerful antioxidant hormone that regulates mood, boosts the immune system, and helps repair cellular damage. It is crucial to total body wellness. Even more fascinating is that melatonin is one of the few antioxidants that can cross the blood-brain barrier.
Research regarding the connection between melatonin deficiency, sleep deprivation, and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s shows that the human brain requires a certain balance of sleep and melatonin production. Without it, your brain suffers.
People who work night jobs, those who spend all their time in artificially lit spaces, or are “night owls” who stare at screens when most people are sleeping may notice a toll on their physical and mental health over time. These groups are at higher risk of insomnia, diabetes, migraines, heart disease, mood disorders, cataracts, obesity, and several forms of cancer.
All light can throw off your internal rhythms but blue light does it far faster.
In a comparison of blue and green light (just up the color spectrum), Harvard researchers discovered that the negative effects of blue light were substantially higher. Blue suppressed hormone production and threw off circadian rhythm at rates that were double that of the green light. They recommend that night-lights should be as close to the red spectrum as possible.
Giving your eyes a break from blue light for a couple of hours before you plan to sleep and exposing your system to bright light during daylight hours helps to stimulate melatonin production in your body.
Blue-blocking lenses could prove invaluable for night shift workers and those of us who can’t seem to step away from our screens.