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Blue Light: Is It A Threat?

The Advent of Digital Devices

In the new age of smartphones, computer monitors, and tablets, we are spending more time than ever in front of digital screens; Psychology Today has hypothesized around 11 hours per day. With information, communication, and entertainment all at our fingertips, there are more and more reasons to expose ourselves to these devices. The technology in these new digital screens emit a by-product; high energy visible light (HEV) which affects our eyes. This HEV is comprised of blue light, which is at the highest end of the visible UV spectrum. This means that blue light is comprised of super high energy wavelengths, the ones that have the most effect on our eyes.

Blue Light is Everywhere

Our bodies are constantly exposed to blue light, as the sun is the largest source of it! This is not a bad thing. We use it to regulate our circadian rhythm, because it allows our bodies to regulate our sleep cycle. At night, as our exposure to blue light diminishes, our bodies shift production of chemicals and hormones to prepare for sleep. This is important for our bodies to rest and recover properly. 

How does Blue Light affect us negatively? 

Social habits have changed since, which have parked us in front of digital devices at all times of the day. This means our bodies are constantly exposed to blue light, and this has a few adverse effects on us. 

Short Term: Because blue light is the highest energy wavelength, it scatters more easily. It makes it tougher for our brains to focus on digital devices. We strain our eyes more to focus, and as a result those who work in front of a computer for the majority of their day suffer from more fatigue and strain. 

Especially at night, when we use our phones or laptops before bedtime, our bodies are tricked into thinking there is still blue light present and that our bodies should still be awake and alert. This makes sleep right afterwards much tougher, and our bodies are not recovering in the way it intends to. 

Long Term: The focused exposure of blue UV light may lead to a higher risk of UV-related issues such as macular degeneration, where patients suffer from decreased central vision. This still remains to be a hard fact, but research has speculated the strong correlation between the two. 

What can be done about this? 

Many companies now offer a blue light filter which is applied to spectacle lenses. This is in prevention to the aforementioned issues. These lenses are coated to repel the blue light from passing through the lens and reaching the eye, thus reducing the amount of strain, fatigue, and damage that blue light causes. Patients who spend more than a couple hours in front of digital devices, or who enjoy these devices before bedtime, will greatly benefit from it.

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