All the Ways Blue Light Might be Ruining Your Health

Over the last couple of years I’ve been hearing a lot about “blue light” in the optical industry. Not always, but sometimes, new things come out that don’t withstand the test of time so I approached the subject with a bit of skepticism. In my role as a Vancouver optician, a large part of my job is being knowledgeable about my industry and all things eye–related, so I felt it was important to do my research. Unfortunately, I discovered that, yes, blue light is very real and potentially dangerous. However, on the bright side, I found that blue light blocking lenses seriously work.

All the Ways Blue Light (From the Screens You Stare at) Might be Ruining Your Health 

What is Blue Light?

Blue light, or high-energy visible light (HEV), is the light on the spectrum that sits right beside UV light. The sun, digital screens (yep, pretty much all of them), electronic devices and fluorescent and LED lighting emit it. It’s everywhere. Natural blue light from the sun is actually important for helping to regulate sleep and wake cycles, or your circadian rhythm. It also increases alertness, improves mood and boosts your feelings of wellbeing. However, when you’re receiving near constant artificial blue light exposure, particularly at night, from blue light sources including tablets, cell phones, laptops and energy-efficient bulbs and lights, it can be dangerous.

Health Effects of Blue Light

Blue light waves are short and flicker causing a glare. This glare lessens visual sharpness, clarity and contrast. It also leads to eyestrain. Do you get headaches from looking at a computer? That’s why! All of that screen time results in physical and mental fatigue, headaches, dry and irritated eyes, neck pain, back pain and even blurry vision. While this is generally temporary, it’s unpleasant. Staring at a device’s screen for two hours can set off the digital eyestrain and related problems. Alarmingly, 60% of us spend more than six hours per day looking at digital devices.

Blue Light HeadacheAdditionally, blue light exposure at night suppresses the production of melatonin, the sleep-regulating hormone. This leads to insomnia and poor quality zzzz’s, which as we all know can impact everything from your ability to concentrate to your mood. Not only does melatonin help you sleep, but it also has an overall effect on your health. This could be why Harvard research has found a link between low melatonin, as seen in people like night shift workers who are exposed to blue light all night, and an increase in certain kinds of cancer, diabetes, obesity, heart disease and depression.

Prolonged blue light exposure also damages the eyes and can contribute to cataracts and macular degeneration, which may lead to vision loss. Our eyes filters don’t offer enough protection from the constant onslaught of blue light and damage to the back of the eye, or the macula, can occur. Kids and teens who haven’t developed any resistance to this sort of exposure are especially vulnerable. The eyes of children under 10-years-old haven’t fully developed and the lens and cornea are still mostly transparent leaving them at risk for retinal damage.

How to Protect Yourself From Blue Light Exposure

The most basic way to protect yourself from overexposure to blue light sources is limiting your (and your children’s) screen time. This is extremely important at night. Adopt good sleep hygiene by turning off your devices a few hours before bed and be sure to expose yourself to bright light during the day, which will also improve your sleep.

Invest in blue light blocking eyewear. I personally swear by Crizal Prevencia lens coating and use it on all of my lenses. I’ve noticed a huge difference. I was immediately struck by how much more comfortable my eyes were and now I rarely take them off. It allows the helpful blue-turquoise light in, which regulates your sleep/wake cycle and memory, but keeps out harmful HEV light. Thankfully, most lens companies are working on their own version of HEV blocking coating. While both of my children are under the age of six and aren’t using computers, as their exposure increases, I will soon switch them to a combination of glasses with transitions lenses and Prevencia coating to block both UV and blue light.

I found a helpful site if you’re interested in learning more about the dangers of blue light exposure. Or, stop by the Spectacle Shoppe for information and suggestions. We can help you find the perfect coating to block blue light. Your eyes and health will thank you! Contact our Kerrisdale optical store today.

 


Morgan Nahanee
Morgan Nahanee

Author

Morgan is The Spectacle Shoppe’s Lead Technician and Customer Relations Specialist as well as a Principle of Spectacle Shoppe. She is a licensed contact lens fitter and dispensing optician and has been working for The Spectacle Shoppe since 2006. She graduated from Douglas College’s two year Dispensing Optician and Contact Lens Fitting Program in 2008. From contact lens fitting to eyeglass repairs and adjustments Morgan is eager to help you with any optical needs. Connect with Morgan Nahanee on Google+