You may have heard about blue light recently. The concern over this specific type of light is growing, and manufacturers are even building safeguards into phones and tablets to limit the consumer’s exposure to blue light. But what is blue light, and is there really any cause for alarm? Like ultraviolet radiation, visible blue light has both benefits and dangers. Read on to learn 6 key points about blue light that you need to know.
1. What is blue light?
All light is made up of electromagnetic particles that travel in waves. Blue light has a wavelength of between approximately 380nm and 500nm which makes it the shortest, highest-energy wavelength. Blue light can be harmful because it is the brightest visible light that most people are exposed to for long periods of time.
2. Blue light is everywhere.
While sunlight does contain blue light, there are many other sources of blue light that we are exposed to on a daily basis. Blue light sources can be found in any bright white light. Blue light is also found in the digital screens of electronic devices; TVs, computers, laptops, smart phones and tablets all emit blue light. It can also be found in fluorescent and LED lighting, which are commonly used in office settings.
43% of adults work in a job that requires prolonged use of a computer or tablet, which leads to elevated levels of blue light exposure.
3. The eye is not very good at blocking blue light.
Virtually all visible blue light passes through the cornea and lens and reaches the retina of our eyes. Simply put, our eyes are not able to block the blue light in the same way we can block UV light.
4. Blue light exposure may increase the risk of macular degeneration.
Since our eyes are unable to block blue light it makes prevention difficult. Especially considering all of the sources of blue light that we are exposed to everyday. Prolonged exposure could be cause of retinal damage and lead to macular degeneration – which can lead to vision loss.
5. Blue light contributes to digital eye strain.
Nearly 70% of adults who use media devices regularly have experienced some symptoms of digital eyestrain. Digital eyestrain is a medical condition with serious symptoms that can affect learning and work productivity. Symptoms include blurry vision, difficulty focusing, dry and irritated eyes, headaches and neck and back pain. Digital eyestrain has overtaken carpal-tunnel syndrome as the #1 computer related complaint.
Research has shown that lenses that block blue light increase contrast significantly. If you spend more than 7 hours a day in front of any media device, computer glasses with yellow-tinted lenses may increase your comfort and reduce damage to your eyes.
6. Not all blue light is bad.
Blue light does have benefits, so it should not be avoided altogether. The bright high-energy light has been shown to boost alertness and elevate the mood, as well as helping memory and cognitive functions. Another benefit of blue light is that it helps regulate the circadian rhythm, which is the body’s natural sleep and wake cycles. So getting some blue light during the day help to maintain a healthy balance. On the other hand, you should avoid looking at bright screens 1 – 2 hours before bed to help get a full night of rest.