THE BLUE LIGHT THREAT
What is blue light?
Blue light is one of the highest intensity types of visible light with very short wavelengths that produce a high amount of energy. Blue light is the most damaging light to our eyes in the visible light spectrum. This high-energy visible (HEV) light corresponds to a wavelength range between 400 -500 nanometers (nm) and our eyes perceive this energy as light.
Light wavelengths come in different intensities, which allows us to perceive different colors of light. These colors form the color spectrum, so blue light is actually everywhere!
Historically, blue light has primarily been produced naturally by the sun forming white light together with red, orange, yellow, green, violet, and indigo. However, through the advancement of technologies we are now exposed to multiple artificial sources of blue light such as LED lighting, fluorescent lighting, LCD and LED screens, etc.
Blue light is also found in any device with an illuminated display such as smartphones, tablets, computers, TV’s, e-readers, digital gaming devices, etc. These electronic devices use LED and LCD lighting because they are energy efficient and cost effective to produce.
Why is blue light bad for our eyes and overall health?
As a result of the high-energy level, blue light penetrates through our eye’s cornea and lens and slowly deteriorates the back of our eye’s retina and macula. This results in gradual oxidation and macular deterioration over the course of a lifetime.
Many short and long-term health effects have been associated with increased exposure to blue light since this affects not only our eyes, but also our overall health.
Scientists have proven that an increase in blue light exposure produces the short-term phenomenon of “veiled glare” which results in vision irritation (eye strain, dry eyes, burning and sore eyes, itchy eyes, fatigue and headaches).
The prolonged and continued unprotected exposure to blue light can cause severe damage to the retina and progressive degeneration of the macula, which is the leading cause of visual impairment e.g. Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD). This type of vision loss affects color perception, the ability to read, write, drive and other cognitive functions and ultimately can lead to blindness.
The Harvard University Science Journal links blue light to broader health issues.
Melatonin vs. Sleep?
Our body requires blue light from the sun to differentiate between day and night, boost alertness and regulate our circadian rhythms (biological clock). Spending time looking at your phone, tablet, computer, TV or digital screen exposure late at night suppresses the secretion of melatonin subsequently impacting our sleep/wake cycle by misleading our body into thinking it should stay awake.
Melatonin (also known as N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine) is a hormone that regulates sleep and wakefulness. Scientists have found a correlation between melatonin deprivation and conditions such as sleeping disorders, clinical depression, obesity, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, organ function impact, and has been associated with an increased cancer risk and impaired immune system function.
Melatonin is a tumor inhibiting hormone that fends off cancer in the body. A lack of sleep reduces the opportunity for melatonin to suppress tumors. Studies have shown that Melatonin significantly improved the complete and partial remission rate (16.5 versus 32.6%) as well as the one-year cancer survival rate (28.4 versus 52.2%)!
All these harmful effects could be prevented or minimized with proper blue light protection and pigment supplementation.
Make sure you protect your health and the eye health of the ones you love while enjoying the modern lifestyles and day-to-day gadgets.