What is Blue Light?
You may have heard recently about the effects of blue light on your overall health and about some of the products in the market designed to minimize or eliminate its effects.
Although it is clear that exposure to blue light can adversely affect our vision and overall heath, few of us understand what exactly is blue light.
Blue light is the highest energy portion of the visible light spectrum. When put through a prism, visible light is broken down into its component colors, from red (lowest energy) to blue (highest energy).
Each and every day we are exposed to all kinds of light, with increasing amounts of blue light in that mix. Outdoor exposure to blue light comes from the sun; while indoor exposure comes from artificial sources of blue light, such as computer screens, tablets, cell phones, television screens, and modern energy efficient light bulbs.
This blue light affects us in 3 ways:
It can contribute to the onset of a condition known as AMD or Age-Related Macular Degeneration, which can eventually lead to vision loss
It also impacts our daytime vision by causing glare (light scatter) and blurry vision (chromatic aberration). Constant exposure to blue light can impact visual performance, by increasing sensitivity to glare, reducing contrast and color perception, and decreasing visual acuity.
Blue light ultimately impacts our overall well being, specifically when exposed to it at night. It can suppress the production of melatonin in our brains, leading to a disruption in our sleep patterns and disturb our natural circadian rhythm. This sleep disruption affects not only our ability to fall asleep, but the quality of our sleep itself.
Many of us can relate to a "rough night's sleep" which can lead to a feeling of exhaustion, irritability and cause poor work performance
Who are at risk?
Kids spend significant amount of time in sunlight outdoors and use digital devices earlier and more extensively than ever before. Today’s young children will have a greater cumulative lifetime exposure to high energy blue light than their older siblings or their parents.
People who have undergone cataract surgery also may be more susceptible to blue light hazards, depending on the light-absorptive characteristics of the intraocular lens (IOL) used during their procedure.
People with a family history of AMD and those who spend long hours outdoors or using computers and other digital devices.
With so much talk these days about the potential risks that digital devices pose to the eyes, it's easy to forget that the sun is by far a more potent source of blue light exposure for most people. Quality sunglasses that significantly reduce the transmittance of high energy blue light.
How to minimize the effects of exposure to blue light?
There are several ways to address and minimize the effects of exposure to blue light. Ideally, reducing the amount and duration of the exposure to blue light sources can help greatly to resolve all the issues related to its exposure. Unfortunately, our way of life, which is so dependent on modern technologies makes this approach a little impractical.
Eyewear specifically designed to address blue light exposure can help to address blue light issues with such technologies as:
Blue light blocking lenses
Blue light filtering coatings
Blue light filtering lenses that contain artificial Ocular Lens Pigment (OLP)