Did you know the main source of blue light comes from the sun? When you’re outside soakin’ up those golden rays, your body is exposed to these light waves which can help to boost our mood, energy, attention, and help regulate our circadian rhythms. Though it has its benefits, blue light can also endanger the health of our eyes. In our digital world today, the constant use of smartphones, laptops, iPads, and LED light sources means we’re being exposed to blue light far too often. And even though our eyes are quite capable of shielding the retina from damaging UV rays, our eyes are not as effective at blocking out blue light. Studies have shown that excessive exposure to it can contribute to a cascade of effects in both children and adults. Read on to learn more about this topic and how blue light affects our eyesight.
What is Blue Light?
The light you see and are exposed to each and every day is much more complex than meets the eye. When you switch on your laptop, go outside, flick on the TV, or use your smartphone, your eyes encounter a spectrum of light rays. This visible light contains a range of colours, including red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. When combined, these make up the “white light” that we can see. Along this visible spectrum, light that falls closer to the blue side contains shorter wavelengths and the highest amount of energy. Even though electronic devices emit only a mere fraction of what the sun does, our constant use and exposure to this light have many eye professionals worried.
How Does Blue Light Affect Our Eyes?
As noted, our eyes are pretty effective at protecting our retinas from the UV rays. But when it comes to blue light, not so much. No matter what the source of it may be, blue light gets absorbed through our corneas and ends up reaching the retina. The retina is where light rays are converted and connected to our optic nerve in the brain which is what allows us to see the images we see. So the retina is vital for letting us view and interpret the world around us. Though there’s a growing body of research that highlights the dangers imposed by excess exposure, there’s still a lot to learn. But as of now, here’s what we know about blue light and how it can impact our eyes:
Since blue light can pass all the way back to our retina, it can damage the cells around this light-sensitive tissue. When this happens, it can cause alterations in the eyes, producing symptoms that are similar to macular degeneration. Though more research is needed to comprehend the full extent of this, eye health practitioners are concerned about a growing risk of this disease which can eventually result in permanent vision loss.
Overloads of blue light can also cause ‘digital’ eyestrain. This may not sound too alarming, however, it can lead to aggravating headaches and blurred vision.
Poor Quality Sleep
Moderate exposure to certain blue light wavelengths can help to improve sleep patterns by regulating our circadian rhythms. Before technology was such a central part of our lives, our bodies were able to naturally know when to wake up and when to wind down in preparation for sleep. But nowadays, our bodies don’t know what to think when our digital devices keep throwing off those embedded cues. Activities such as watching the flatscreen, using the laptop, or playing on your smartphone right before bed have shown to reduce the production of melatonin, which is responsible for helping us sleep. This is why reducing the use of electronics is imperative so you can improve your quality of sleep and have more energy throughout the daytime.
How to Counteract these Effects
As we learn more about the impacts of this side of our visible light spectrum, we’re also learning how to mitigate it so we can shield our eyes better and keep them healthy. Of course, one of the most important ways to reduce the risk of damage is by learning how to unplug again. This is especially crucial for teens and children who tend to be at a greater level of risk eye damage. Here’s what we recommend for keeping your eyes safe:
Limit Screen Time – Create a schedule that outlines when it’s time to unplug and put the screens down. Taking frequent breaks is recommended to give your eyes more reprieve throughout the day.
Use Screen Filters – You can purchase filters that can be applied to any of your screens, like your smartphone or laptop. These help buffer the blue light that’s being emitted which can help protect the retinas.
Use Anti-Reflective Lenses – These are designed to boost the contrast of what you’re viewing while minimizing the glare of blue light that’s emitted from the sun and your electronics.
If you’re concerned about blue light affecting your eyesight, stop by any Laurier Optical location to talk to one of our eye care professionals. They can answer your questions, perform an eye exam and offer more recommendations to keep your eyes safe.