In a previous post we reviewed what blue light is and where it can be found both naturally and artificially in our daily lives. Now it’s time to dig into how blue light affects us both positively and negatively, and what steps you can take to protect your eyes.
Blue light can be found all around us during the day in its natural form. The Sun’s light filters through the Earth’s atmosphere, creating our blue sky. Our bodies have chemically adapted to the daily exposure we get to natural blue light. It helps dictate our circadian rhythms by affecting when and how much melatonin (the hormone that regulates our sleep-wake cycle) is produced. Exposure to natural blue light gives us more energy during the day for our most productive hours and has shown to boost moods and wellbeing overall.
However, now that artificial blue light has entered our households, exposing us to blue light in the evenings and often late into the night via TVs, phones, tablets, computers, and certain LED light bulbs it’s no surprise that it has shown to disturb natural sleep habits, among other things. While natural blue light helps regulate our circadian rhythm, artificial blue light can disrupt that circadian rhythm just as easily. Prolonged exposure to blue light can reduce the production of melatonin, throwing off our body’s natural sleep and wake cycles. And with less quality sleep, overall health and wellbeing is put at risk.
Though the human eye is good at filtering UV rays, it’s not so great at filtering blue light. According to the Canadian Association of Optometrists, “Virtually all visible blue light passes through the cornea and lens and reaches the retina. The effect of this exposure is cumulative, and the total number of exposure hours is what matters.”
High energy blue light waves create “visual noise” that reduces contrast and makes it more difficult for the eye to focus, contributing to dry eyes, blurry vision, headaches, and neck and back pain. The specific condition given to this collection of physical side effects has been coined Digital Eyestrain Syndrome. Though research is still being done on the concrete effects of prolonged blue light exposure, it has also been suggested that it can contribute to retinal damage, the advancement of cataracts, and may increase one’s risk for diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer.
So what can you do?
While all of this may seem dooming, there are preventative measures you can take to protect your eyes and overall well being from the harmful effects of blue light.
As the Canadian Association of Optometrists advises, “A healthy diet, high in leafy green vegetables and colourful fruits, may help to increase the levels of the protective pigments in the retina and mitigate some damaging effects of blue light.”
And to prevent blue light from disrupting sleep cycles, experts suggest getting natural blue light exposure early in the day, avoiding bright screens for 2-3 hours before bedtime, and limiting screen time to no more than two hours per day for children ages 5-18, one hour per day for children ages 2-5, and avoiding it completely for children 2 years of age or younger.
But in today’s digital age, we know how difficult it can be to limit exposure to artificial blue light. Our devices are part of our work life, home life, sources of entertainment, and ways in which we communicate with one another. That’s why at Jim Halo, we offer specialty lenses developed specifically to filter blue light and its harmful effects. Peruse our selection, and find protective lenses for you and your family so you can enjoy screen time without having to worry about your health or the health of your loved ones.