Why Should I Care About Blue Light?
- Blue light is generated from the sun and artificially from computer screens, smartphones, tablets, televisions, and energy efficient lighting.
- Blue light is more damaging to our eyes than Ultraviolet light, and Blue light also affects our vision, and our physiological health.
- According to the American Optometric Association(AOA), children are more at risk from damaging sunlight because the lens on their eyes allows unfiltered light to reach the retina at the back of the eye.
How does Blue Light effect me?
- Blue light is a cause of gradual oxidation in the eye and over the course of a lifetime may result in macular degeneration.
- Most of us acquire over 70% of light vision damage before 20 years of age because the lens of the eye has no protection, and both Ultraviolet light and Blue Light pass unfiltered through the lens.
Consequences of Blue Light exposure:
Direct consequences on the eye
SHORT TERM unfiltered Blue Light exposure produces the short term phenomenon of “veiled glare” which results in vision irritation (dry, burning, itchy eyes, fatigue and headaches).
MEDIUM TERM Blue light associated strain on the eye may contribute to either presbyopia or myopia.
LONG TERM Blue Light impact on the eye may include damage to the retina (specifically retinal pigment epithelium cells), and progressive degeneration of the macula, which is the leading cause of visual impairment (e.g. Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD). This type of vision loss affects color perception, the ability to read, write, drive and other cognitive functions. In a fully affected form, this type of degeneration can lead to blindness. Age Related Macular Degeneration is a worldwide epidemic affecting an estimated 30 to 50 million people; this is equal to the number of people affected by Alzheimer’s disease and all cancers combined. AMD is misunderstood as a disease of the elderly, when in fact middle-aged individuals are at risk: For example, a 50-year-old American woman is four times more likely to be diagnosed with AMD than breast cancer before she reaches the age of 55.
Indirect consequences on Physiology
While naturally occurring Blue Light has been overlooked, of greater concern is the rise in the artificial sources of Blue Light.
The Harvard University Science Journal links Blue Light to broader health issues. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone in humans and is directly involved in regulating the circadian rhythm of the brain.
With Blue Light exposure from artificial light sources, the pineal gland produces less Melatonin and the normal sleep cycle is affected. Ineffective sleep is linked to workplace safety, learning and memory problems, and an overall increase in mortality.
The impact on circadian rhythm can result in a multitude of health concerns including attention and depression issues, cardiovascular performance (may lead to cardiometabolic consequences such as Type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, organ function impact) and has been associated with an increased cancer risk and impaired immune system function.