Why Should I Care About Blue Light?
There’s a lot of buzz about the damaging effects of blue light on your overall health and specifically the health of your eyes. Even as an eye care professional, I’m overwhelmed by the amount of information I find when I search “blue light” on the internet. The concept of harmful blue light is quite simple. Blue light lives next door to ultraviolet light on the light spectrum, and studies show that it damages your eyes in similar ways. While both UV and blue light can cause damage to the retina, blue light penetrates further into the eye, potentially causing macular damage that can eventually lead to blindness.
We have always talked with our patients about protecting their eyes from UV, and if they were wearing proper UV protective lenses outdoors then we knew they were subsequently protecting themselves from blue light. So why the sudden surge in conversation about blue light specifically? Because we have effectively brought the sun and all its damaging light indoors. With the extensive use of backlit flat screen electronic devices (TVs, computers, tablets, smartphones) and fluorescent and LED lighting, we are exposed to damaging blue light from the time we open our eyes in the morning until we close them at night.
This overexposure to blue light can cause a variety of health issues from digital eyestrain and migraines to insomnia and even macular damage. High energy blue light flickers more than other wavelengths, causing an intense glare that leads to eye strain and fatigue. Fighting this glare for hours each day can lead to dry eyes, headaches, neck aches, and backaches.
Another negative consequence of overexposure to blue light is its effect on our ability to fall asleep and enter proper REM sleep. We rely on the natural blue light from the sun to help our bodies regulate natural sleep and wake cycles and also to boost our moods and energy levels. With overexposure to artificial blue light, our bodies produce less melatonin, the hormone that regulates our moods and sleep cycles, which can result in insomnia and depression.
There is evidence that overexposure to blue light also contributes to retinal and macular damage, which can eventually lead to blindness. Harvard medical studies have found that blue light is the most dangerous light for the retina and the American Macular Degeneration Foundation reports that blue light accelerates macular degeneration more than any other part of the light spectrum.
Given the wide range of damage blue light can cause to your health, it is important to begin protecting yourself from it in the same way you protect your eyes from UV with sunglasses. There are a number of products designed to help filter or block some of this harmful blue light. These blue-blocking and blue filtering products are available in prescription and non-prescription lenses. To learn more, contact our office for more information.