Author: Dan Amyx, Owner, Hillmoor Optical / Board Certified Optician ABOC, NCLC, NAO
Here I sit in front of my computer trying to find a starting place for this article. As I stare at the blank white screen of my document program, I take note of the fact that it is not really white, but blue. In order to create the brightness of a snow white page, phones, iPads, and computer screens use blue LEDs.
This high intensity visible blue light (HEV) has been shown to be damaging to your eyes as well as your general health.
Blue light during daylight hours boosts energy, alertness and mood. But prolonged exposure to blue light can disrupt your sleep, alter hormonal levels, and interfere with the body’s ability to recover from stress. A study in the Netherlands discovered that third shift workers had a greater risk for cancer because of blue light exposure at night.
Studies have shown that HEV blue light can suppress the production of melatonin and reduce the removal of Cortisol from the body, thus wreaking havoc on your circadian rhythms.
In addition, new research suggests that high amounts of this blue, near-violet light can damage the retina, causing macular degeneration. This is a disease that starts in the central area of your vision and spreads out word, eventually causing near blindness. The worst time for exposure is during teenage years into the 30s. Damage is cumulative and worsens as we age.
There are some things you can do to protect your eyes from this light, the first is to reduce your screen time. This seems to be good for mental health as well. There are also various eyeglass coatings and lens materials available that limit or prevent harmful blue light radiation from entering the eye.
An anti-glare coating by Hoya, called Recharge, reflects nearly 25% of damaging blue light. Shamir Blue Zero and Conant are lenses that absorb 70% and more of the blue light. Brown polarized sunglasses lenses are much more effective in protecting the eyes from blue light than are gray colored lenses. You can also find screen filters that reduce blue light; however these are not regulated and subsequently may be ineffective.
There is a lot of information online if you choose to do research on the subject. The entire August 2018 issue of National Geographic was devoted to sleep, and blue light was one of the topics covered in that issue.
To protect your vision and quality-of-life, always seek out professionals who know their business. We are always willing to share our knowledge and contribute to your health and well-being. Let us know how we can help.
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