Blue light has become a buzzword in recent years because it could be a factor for the development of macular degeneration and other vision problems.
There have been reports saying that it contributes to a condition called digital eye strain, which is characterized by tightness in the eye, headaches, and blurred vision.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, blue light can affect your sleep and potentially cause disease. Other research also shows that it may contribute to the causation of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
What is Blue Light?
Blue light exists in nature because it’s part of the light spectrum. It makes up the visible light spectrum along with other colors, including yellow, red, and green.
But, why is it the one that became a hot topic compared to other colors?
First, this light is inescapable, even more so now that we use devices a lot. Second, it has been linked to eye fatigue as it has a short yet high energy wavelength, which ranges from 380nm to 500nm.
These had led companies to create special eyeglasses to offset the side effects of this light. Those glasses are known as blue light blocking glasses, depending on their purpose, branding, or designs; they are also called computer or gaming glasses.
That’s not the only way this light adversely affects our health. Research also suggests that blue light disrupts melatonin regulation in the body.
Mind you; everyone has a different biological clock. Some people like to stay up late at night. Some people have regular sleep patterns.
The thing is, blue light can alter the circadian rhythm by suppressing melatonin, which is a hormone that plays a role in our sleeping habits.
If you’re exposed to blue light before bed, the lack of melatonin in the body will boost alertness. As a result, you will struggle to fall asleep.
Due to the unique nature of increased secretion in dim environments, melatonin is often called the ‘Dracula of Hormones’.
Blue Light Exposure in Today’s Life
Blue light has become a cause for concern, given that the use of devices is at an all-time high. We can never escape smartphones, televisions, tablets, and other gadgets.
In fact, many people have a few of them, which results in prolonged and constant exposure. If you can’t limit your time in front of devices, eye strain could be inevitable.
Digital eye strain is no longer a novelty these days. Everyone is at risk, thanks to the high dependence on gadgets. The worst part is our eyes aren’t designed to keep this light out, which means it can get into the eye given the right circumstances.
Unlike UV rays in which our eyes have evolved to filter them, blue light can cause damage because nothing is stopping it.
The only way to avoid problems associated with blue light overexposure is by setting limits on screen time. Keep in mind that blue light won’t suddenly cause eye strain. It’s the cumulative exposure that will take you there.
Blue light scatters more easily than other wavelengths. When you look at a screen, the contrast will drop, and this can cause fatigue in the long run.
Is All Blue Light Bad?
Blue light is part of the visible light spectrum, so we’ll always be exposed to it no matter what. However, it wasn’t until recently that this light got a reputation for being potentially harmful.
But, is it that bad?
Well, if we talk about blue light emitted from digital screens, then it could be. Many people said that they had headaches and eye fatigue after using a device for hours. However, we shouldn’t jump to the conclusion that blue light is inherently evil.
Remember that blue light also occurs in nature, and it rarely causes side effects. Natural light is beneficial for health. That’s because blue isn’t the only energy that makes up the spectrum.
Other wavelengths also become part of it, including red. It’s better when blue comes with the full spectrum. Here are some benefits of blue light:
- Increases alertness
- Improves memory
- Boosts cognitive function
- Could be used for therapy
Imagine the world without blue, drowsiness will interfere with your everyday life. There’s no problem with staying awake, right? Without it, you’ll feel lazy during the day, which in turn affects your productivity. There are other benefits of blue light, aside from the ones mentioned above.
According to Healthline media, blue light therapy could be used to treat skin-related problems, including sun damage and skin cancer. For cancer, it works by removing precancerous lesions. Cancer is often treatable at earlier stages, especially when it hasn’t traveled to other parts of the body. Blue light therapy could also benefit those who want smoother skin.
As we know, skin care has become a hot commodity because everyone wants to look pretty, free of wrinkles and acne. Many skin care products are costly, but that doesn’t stop people from buying.
Well, if you’re curious about other skin treatment options, read more information about blue light therapy as it may interest you.
And then, it can also be used for the treatment of SAD as revealed by a study. It comes as no surprise that it is used that way, considering every color has different psychological implications.
SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depressive condition that comes seasonally. It often starts in the fall or winter, although some experience it in the summer.
As for the symptoms, it manifests as depressed feelings that last for an entire season. The sufferer could also lose interest in things he used to be involved in a lot. The worst part is it can cause changes in eating and sleep habits.
Growing Concern for High-Energy Visible Light
With how people ‘abuse’ devices nowadays, it’s understandable that there’s growing concern about the impact of blue light on health. Many people have been exposed to gadgets since childhood.
That’s not to say that kids back in the day didn’t play games or watch television, but these days, it’s a commonplace to see them glued to their smartphone or tablet for hours. It means the cumulative amount of blue light they’re exposed would also increase dramatically by the time they reach adulthood.
As we know, the impact of blue light doesn’t come overnight. Long-term side effects like cataracts and macular degeneration are caused by prolonged exposure. In the short-term, it can still cause eye fatigue. Although it goes away with rest, this is not something to look down upon.
If this problem comes and goes frequently, something more serious could happen eventually. Therefore, be wise with how you use devices because blue light is everywhere. It’s coming out of your TV screen, smartphone, tablet, and even light fixtures installed around the house.
How to Protect Yourself from The Dark Side of Blue Light?
1. Lower screen brightness
Too much light puts a strain on the eyes. There’s no point of increasing brightness too high when you can read just fine with a lower brightness level.
If you often have headaches, see if they’re caused by a glare that your laptop produces. If so, lower it a little to a level you’re comfortable with. Every device comes with brightness settings, so it’s not difficult to do if you’re willing.
2. Rest your eyes
One right way to avoid eye strain is not to overwork your eyes. No matter how much of an addict you are, gaming shouldn’t be done nonstop. There should be rest every 30 minutes or so to prevent this issue.
Every game has a pause feature, right? You can take advantage of that to break from staring at the screen. It doesn’t have to belong. A-minute break is enough to relax the muscles in your eyes.
Or to make it easier, you can follow the 20-20-20 rule. It doesn’t just apply to video gaming, anyway. Anytime you spend long hours in front of a digital device, there should be occasional breaks. It should be sufficient to prevent digital eye strain.
3. Bask in the sun
Not all blue light is terrible. Natural light, for instance, is a good source of blue light. We had been exposed to it even before these technological advances came into existence. Eye strain doesn’t seem to be an issue when digital devices are taken out of the equation.
Quite the contrary, sunlight has proven beneficial for health even if blue light is part of the spectrum. Soaking in the sun helps regulate your circadian rhythm, preparing you to sleep soundly at night.
4. Wear blue light glasses
Lastly, if limiting screen time isn’t an option, you can consider wearing blue light glasses.
There are people whose job requires them to stay on their laptop hours a day.
If you’re an office worker, staying away from devices is probably hard to do, but now with the advent of blue light glasses, you can handle eye strain better.
They have unique coatings that don’t allow HEV blue light to penetrate through. By blocking a good portion of the light spectrum, your eyes will be highly protected.
What to keep in mind is every product has a different level of protection. Read the specs to find out how much blue light a pair of glasses can filter because it directly affects its efficacy.
Whether you choose either a framed or a clip-on glasses, don’t forget to decide on the tint first.
Who are they made for?
They are suitable for anyone that uses devices a lot.
Not only do they protect you from the potential side effects of blue light, but they also ensure a good night’s sleep by promoting the natural sleep-wake cycle.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is blue light filter?
Blue light filter is a type of filter used to block blue light. It’s available in several forms, including glasses and screen protectors. In blue light glasses, it comes as a coating on the lens. Many people are unaware that blue light protection is more than just a yellow tint.
Just because gaming glasses come in yellow doesn’t mean it’s the only effective shade for blue light. Clear lenses can also do the same. It’s more to do with the special coating, not the color of the lens. With this filter, blue light can be stopped before it passes through the cornea.
However, it’s worth-noting that glasses aren’t created equal. Some filter more of this spectrum than the others. That’s why it’s necessary to know the filtration rate as it can disclose the level of coverage a product has.
In case you’re curious if your glasses are filtering blue light or not, look at the color blue through the lens. If there’s a coating on them, it should darken considerably.
What is blue light on phone?
The kind of blue light coming out of your phone is the same as that produced by other digital screens. What sets it apart from naturally-occurring blue light is digital screens have it in higher concentrations. To make it worse, they have become part of our daily lives. It’s like there’s no day without staring at digital screens.
For office workers especially, this has become a necessity because their job requires them to do so. The problem is overuse of gadgets comes at a price, such as eye strain. Digital eye strain is a condition that arises from intense focusing on a screen. In short-term, the effect might be insignificant. But in long-term, it has shown to cause more serious issues, like retina damage.
Another difference between both types of blue light is the intensity. In nature, it decreases as the sun drops below the horizon, preparing the body into night mode. That’s not the case with manmade blue light, which can go higher if you set it to high.
What is the blue light district?
The blue light district has a few different meanings, but they have nothing to do with blue light we’re talking about.
As cited from urbandictionary, blue light district refers to a place in Baltimore City where blue police lights are used to keep an eye on crime and violence. There are some other meanings, just visit the URL if you’re interested.
What is the wavelength of blue light?
It has a wavelength of between 380nm and 500nm, which makes it among the shortest wavelengths, but at the same time high energy.
And because of this, protection against blue light is necessary because having high energy translates to increased ability to penetrate deep into the eyes. It can even reach the retina and cause damage to it.
What is the frequency of blue light that has a wavelength of 450 nm?
Visible light takes a small range of frequencies in the electromagnetic spectrum. In general, the waves come in a range of frequencies, but our eyes have a limited ability to see them.
The ones that we can see through the naked eye fall under visible light. Frequency can be used as a measurement for energy that an electromagnetic wave carries. And in this case, a specific wavelength of 450 nm has a frequency of 6.7×1014 6.7 × 10 14 Hz.
What are blue light protection glasses?
Blue light glasses are a type of eyewear specially designed to reduce the side effects of blue light. HEV light can be damaging to the eyes. Without protection, the damage can progress to something more serious. Our eyes haven’t evolved to protect themselves against this light spectrum. Thanks to blue light glasses, now it becomes a possibility.
Excess computer usage can contribute to digital eye strain, a condition that’s characterized by dry eye, headaches, and a host of other symptoms. Although many are aware of the dangers, they can’t help but keep using devices. Basically, devices have melded into our daily lives.
The best thing you can do now is wear blue light glasses to prevent further damage. They have coatings that act as a shield against damaging factors, like glare and blue light. And they can look stylish, too. There are a few types of blue light glasses, like framed and frameless.
They also come in several tints. Yellow glasses are popular because they protect and heighten contrast, the latter is ideal for use in low-light conditions. Meanwhile, clear glasses are popular because they don’t alter color perception.
What is blue light therapy?
Blue light therapy is a therapy that uses a specific wavelength of blue light to treat skin problems. It typically uses an LED bulb and point the light at areas that need treatment, like the skin or right below the surface. One common application of this treatment is to treat acne. It helps in two ways.
First, blue light eliminate bacteria that thrive in the sebaceous glands. Second, it causes the glands to secrete less oil. Bacteria play a role in the proliferation of acne. They are the reason behind inflammation of acne. By keeping them from multiplying, acne will gradually decrease.
What people worry about the most about acne is not the pain, but the scars they might leave in the future. They cause imperfections on the skin which are hard to get rid of. Treatment can be completed as an outpatient with a portable device.
That being said, it’s important to choose a quality LED as it affect the results. When performed at a clinic, a session can last from 15 to 90 minutes. It can take up to 6 treatments depending on the problem.