In today’s world of iPhones, tablets and computers, we are constantly exposed to more and more blue light. These devices undoubtedly help us stay connected and entertained. But did you know that the light emitted from these devices can be harmful to your health? According to Harvard Medical School, “Blue wavelengths—which are beneficial during daylight hours because they boost attention, reaction times, and mood—seem to be the most disruptive at night. And the proliferation of electronics with screens, as well as energy-efficient lighting, is increasing our exposure to blue wavelengths, especially after sundown.” Many researchers believe that blue light significantly decreases the amount of melatonin in our bodies. That decrease can not only lead to poor sleep, but also some cancers, eye disease (such as macular degeneration), diabetes, and heart disease. Digital eyestrain is also a concern, which symptoms include dry and irritated eyes, headaches, blurry vision and neck pain.
So how exactly does our body absorb light? The retina contains rods and cones, which are called photoreceptors (neurons that convert light into signals that can stimulate biological processes). Until recently, these were thought to be the only two types of photoreceptors. “A third class of photoreceptor cells was discovered during the 1990s: the photosensitive ganglion cells. These cells do not contribute to sight directly, but are thought to support circadian rhythms and pupillary reflex.” (Wikipedia). Shorter wavelengths of blue light can also penetrate the skin.
The important thing to remember is that you can minimize the negative health effects by following some basic guidelines.
- For indoors, in low light or at night, wear protective ophthalmic lenses with a blue light filter coating.
- When outdoors, wear sunglasses that are polarized or tinted. Amcon has a variety of options.
- Use dim red lights for night lights. Red light changes your circadian rhythm melatonin the least.
- Avoid looking at bright screens beginning two to three hours before bed.
- Consider wearing blue-blocking glasses if you work or use electronic devices at night.
- Install an application on your electronic devices that “warms up” the colors during evening hours.
- Keep the screens on your electronic devices clean to prevent glare. Our microfiber cleaning cloths are ideal for this task.
- Expose yourself to lots of bright light during the day. This will not only help you sleep at night, but will also have a positive effect on your mood during the day.
- When you are using an electronic device, take a “20/20 Break”: every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and look at something 20 feet away.
- Ask your eye care professional about any concerns you have regarding blue light and UV exposure/protection.