Many people know the importance of protecting their eyes from the sun’s UV rays, but should they also be worried about blue light? Light as many see it consists of a spectrum of coloured light rays: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Each of these colours emits energy, with the blue rays having the shortest wavelength and the most energy. Studies suggest that prolonged and consistent exposure to blue light causes severe damages to the human eye.
While sunlight is the primary source of blue light, it is also found in many indoor lighting, which includes computers, smartphones, and tablets. Considering how much of the waking hours are spent being hooked on these devices, there is merit to the growing concern regarding blue light exposure. Unfortunately, the human eye’s natural filters are not equipped to block blue light. Virtually all visible blue light passes through the cornea and lens to reach the retina.
In this article, we will discuss three dangerous effects and how you can protect your vision.
1. Blue light disrupts your sleep cycle
In its natural form, blue light plays an essential role in regulating an individual’s sleep and wake cycle. During the day, it boosts the mood, alertness, and energy. As light wanes in the evening, your brains get the signal to relax, rest, and recuperate your bodies. The problem lies in the dramatic evolution of how humans use blue light technology.
In this digital age, much of people’s lives are dependent on LED back-lit gadgets such as laptops, cellphones, and flat-screen televisions. They use these electronic devices at work, home, and even before going to bed.
This constant and chronic dependency on blue light lowers the production of melatonin, the body’s sleep hormone. It leads to poor sleep quality, which affects our daytime function and overall health. Research shows that working and staying up late at night increases the risk of several types of cancer, obesity, diabetes, heart diseases, and depression.
2. Blue light adds to digital eyestrain
Do you remember that time you had to work overtime to finish a report or that night you stayed awake playing a video game? After hours staring at your screen, your eyes get dry, your vision gets blurry, and your head starts throbbing. These are common symptoms of digital eyestrain. It’s a recent medical issue that has overtaken carpal-tunnel syndrome as the leading computer-related complaint among people today.
Digital eyestrain is more severe in children. Before they reach ten years of age, a child has underdeveloped eyes. The crystalline lens and cornea are still transparent and subject to light exposure. Parents should be careful about how their young kids use gadgets these days and make sure to minimize screentime.
3. Blue light increases the risk of Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
As you age, your eyes’ crystalline lens develops to be able to absorb UV light. At 20 years, they have become yellow enough to filter out high energy visible light as well. However, recent studies confirm that long-term exposure and absorption of blue light contribute to the eyes’ ageing and destruction of cells in the retina. This premature macular degeneration can lead to serious vision problems such as cataracts and glaucoma. Severe cases may even lead to permanent blindness.
How to protect your eyes from blue light
Everyone, young and old, needs protection from blue light. Limit unnecessary screen time and avoid lighted gadgets altogether before bedtime. You can also boost your eyes’ natural defences by eating foods rich in lutein, zinc, beta-carotene, and Vitamin C. These include dark, leafy vegetables and colourful fruits.
Many electronic companies now include settings in their products to lessen or filter blue light. There are also special eyeglasses and protective screen coverings that you can use to reduce your exposure to these high energy wavelengths.