If you haven’t heard of blue light, you should become familiar with it! Your being exposed to blue light right now as you read this very post! So why should you care about it? Well, there may be some unwanted long-term effects on your eye health, but there also may be some benefits to blue light as well. Read on to find out how to benefit from blue light and steer clear from its dangers.
Blue light is everywhere and even emitted by the beautiful sun! But, as we increasingly use more and more digital devices like laptops, mobile devices, and tablets, our exposure to it is exponential. It is important to evaluate how blue light may or may not affect our health.
The Dangers of Blue Light
Too much of anything is bad thing. Our world has vastly changed in the last ten years. We spend an enormous part of our day on digital devices. Whether it be starring at a computer all day at work, or communicating on our phones and tablets in our spare time. We use these devices everywhere and anywhere, because we have that ability now. But, I want to make patients aware that we need to be smart when it comes to using these devices. A big negative effect this increased exposure is having is: digital eye strain. Some of the symptoms of digital eye strain include dry or tired eyes, red eyes, blurry vision, light sensitivity. I always recommend patients follow the 20-20-20 rule when looking at a computer. This can help alleviate some of the issues.
Another, more concerning consequence is a possible increased risk of age related macular degeneration (AMD). Our eyes can block out UV rays pretty well from hitting the back of the eye, referred to as the retina. However, we are unable to sufficiently block out blue light, and so it directly penetrates the retina. Leaving these cells vulnerable to irreversible damage.
Studies have also shown that too much blue light exposure causes disruption to our natural circadian rhythm, making it harder to sleep effectively and on time. At one time we solely received blue light naturally, and so it guided our internal clocks, However, now it is being effected by man made devices, and consequently the number of people with sleep issues is on the rise.
Although, we do not yet fully know the negative effects of blue light, we certainly know enough right now to know we need to protect ourselves from too much exposure.
Blue Light Protection
The good news is you can take steps to protect yourself from too much blue light exposure, and here’s how:
- Don’t use your digital devices two to three hours prior to bed;
- Use a blue light protection app on your devices, like the google blue light filter;
- Consider blue light blocking glasses; and
- Consume foods high in lutein and zeaxanthin to help protect the eyes
The next time you visit your eye doctor have a conversation about blue light. How much are you being exposed to through work and recreation? Also ask about blue light filter lens coatings, which are widely available. These are especially beneficial to those who work on computers all day.
It’s Not All Bad
It’s important to also note that not all blue light is negative. It does regulate our circadian rhythm. It also has shown to improve mood and cognitive function. The Review of Optometry issued an article “Warding off the Blues,” which explained how although blue light has positively been applied to Alzheimer’s disease for some time now, recently Huntington’s and Parkinson’s disease have also shown positive promise. The take away here is we do need blue light, just in healthy doses!