You may not be aware of it, but we are always surrounded by blue light every day. These short, high-energy blue wavelengths are everywhere—the sun emits blue light, and so do your favourite gadgets.
Consider the time you spend hooked on your screens, smartphones, and laptops. Studies show that prolonged exposure to artificial blue light causes vision problems and adverse effects on our overall health. Read on to learn more about blue light, its effects, and how you can protect yourself from its damages.
Is blue light all bad?
Exposure to blue light is not all harmful. In fact, it's what makes the sky look blue. In its natural form, blue light helps regulate our bodies' sleep and wake cycles. It's what makes us alert and active during the day. It also boosts our mood, memory, and energy levels.
However, artificial blue light is concerning because of how much and how near we are getting exposed to it. The evolution in digital screen technology has dramatically advanced over the last two decades. These days, most of our electronic devices use LED back-lit technology that emits blue light.
How does blue light affect our brains?
Nature has magnificently displayed how blue light can work to our advantage. During the day, the sun emits blue light to keep us up and awake. At night, its absence signals our brain to rest. The problem with artificial sources of blue light is that they mess up with our brains and disrupt our sleep-wake cycle.
When we watch TV late at night or bring our phones to bed, the blue light from these gadgets suppresses the release of "sleep hormones" or melatonin in our brains. Because of this, we have problems falling asleep; and when we finally do, it's not good, well-rested sleep. Because sleep is a crucial factor in our overall well-being, this leads to more severe health problems.
How does blue light affect our eyes?
On the spectrum, blue light sits just one level below UV radiation. It has the highest intensity among visible lights, so prolonged exposure to it is harmful to our vision. While the sun emits both blue and UV lights, we don't stare at the sun's glare as much as we do at our electronic screens.
Unfortunately, our eyes do not have sufficient filters against these harsh rays. Considering that we spend so much of our waking hours using these devices, it's no wonder we get headaches and eyestrain after a long day at work. If we're not careful, continued exposure to blue light could lead to retinal damage and permanent loss of vision.
How do we cut back on blue light?
Experts suggest limiting our screentime, especially one to two hours before going to bed. At work, you can take breaks in between long hours of being in front of the computer. You can also opt for warmer lighting in your homes. Go with the more yellowish LED bulbs instead of those harsher whites.
Additionally, wearing eye protection is a must in this digital age. Orange-tinted glasses filter out blue light. These are useful at the office to avoid eyestrain and migraines. If you find wearing eyeglasses to be uncomfortable, there are screen filters and apps on your devices that eliminate blue light.