How does blue light affect your eyes? Here is everything you need to know!
If you find it hard to fall asleep at night.
Chances are that blue lights are affecting your body’s biological clock, and disrupting your sleep patterns.
The Circadian rhythms are responsible for the timing of many processes, including sleeping and feeding.
However, the introduction of artificial blue light into our lives is disrupting your body’s biological clock.
Because the body is exposed to light long after the sun goes down, the brain can’t manage the production of sleep hormones.
When the brain doesn’t know it’s time to sleep, your Circadian rhythms get out of sync. As a consequence, you probably wake up the next morning, feeling tired and drained.
The solution? however, it's simple.
We’ve all heard that it’s essential to reduce screen time before bed , and stop watching TV or consulting our smartphones at least one hour before we go to sleep.
It can be a significant life improvement for a lot of people!
However, artificial blue light doesn’t only affect the way you sleep at night. It can also interfere with your eye health and cause threatening conditions. Your eyes are precious.
You rely on your eye health for your independence and quality of life. As such, it becomes indispensable to tackle the danger that blue light represents.
In this article, we will explore the origins and consequences of blue light, and more especially, artificial blue light.
- What is blue light?
- Where can you find blue light?
- How does blue light affect your eyes?
- What can you do to protect your eyes from blue light?
1. What is Blue Light?
You’ve probably heard that blue light came from our favorite screens: TV, smartphones, laptops, computers, and tablets.
However, what you may not know is that blue light has always been around.
To fully understand what blue light is, we need to study what light is made of.
Light is the result of electromagnetic particles which emit energy as they travel in waves of different length.
It’s crucial, therefore, to consider the full electromagnetic spectrum , which is the range of frequency of electromagnetic radiation, wavelengths, and photon energies.
In the electromagnetic spectrum of light, blue light is one of the first colors that are visible to the human eye.
There are other colors in the visible light spectrum, such as, in order: violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange, and red.
Blue light has one of the shortest wavelengths, between 380 nm (nanometer) and 500 nm.
As a result, the short wavelengths produce a high amount of energy, which is linked to the damage to the eye health and the Circadian rhythms.
This particularity, high energy and being visible, is known as HEV light , high-energy visible.
As a rule of thumb, the longer the wavelength, the lesser the energy expenditure.
and as such, longer wavelengths are therefore less harmful to the eye or the body.
UV light, for instance, has a shorter wavelength than blue light and emits, therefore, even more energy, which is why it can burn the skin.
For comparison, the wavelengths in the spectrum range from non-visible to visible light and are associated with a specific category:
- Ultra-violet UV rays
- Ultra-violet UV rays
- Visible light, including but not limited to blue light
- Infrared light
- Radio waves
It’s important not to confuse UV light and blue light. Wearing sunglasses when you go outside doesn’t provide protection against blue light. However, it is the best option to keep your eyes healthy in the presence of the direct sun. Your sunglasses act as a shield against UV rays only.
2. Where to Find Blue Light?
Blue light is a lot more common than you might think. Contrary to common belief, putting away your screens doesn’t eliminate blue light.
However, we need to make a distinction between artificial blue light and natural blue light.
Natural blue light is present everywhere in the world. In fact, for a long time, the sole source of blue light on planet Earth was the sun.
The sun emits both UV rays, which are harmful to our health, and natural blue light.
Is the sun’s blue light harmful?
The answer is no. It is highly beneficial for our mental and physical health.
If you have heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder, a depressive disorder that is linked to the decrease in natural sunlight.
you can easily treat by walking a few minutes every day in the sun.
Lamp therapy also reproduces the blue light from the sun to address the condition.
During the day, the sun’s blue light maintains our Circadian rhythms, gives us a boost of energy, and makes us feel more alert.
In other words, natural HEV blue light is a health boost.
However, artificial blue light is another kettle of fish.
Indeed, indoor blue light, as scientists like to describe it, is emitted by digital screens, LED lighting, electronic devices, and fluorescent lighting.
We all have way too many of those at home, and unfortunately, the trend shows no sign of slowing down. Smartphones are an integral part of our everyday life, and they also are part of the problem.
What are the most common sources of artificial blue light?
- Personal computers and laptops
- Gaming consoles
- VR helmet
- LED light bulbs
- Energy-efficient fluorescent bulbs
- Digital clocks (however, you probably don’t look at it often enough for it to cause any lasting damage)
3. How Does Blue Light Affect Your Eyes?
Because blue light has very short wavelengths, it can cause a flickering sensation as a result of the wavelength.
The flicker is often linked to a glare effect that affects the visual contrast. Your eyes can struggle to “see” clearly.
As a result, images can lose their sharpness and clarity, which the eye needs to compensate for.
When it comes to sticking to eye-healthy environments, blue light can make it hard in everyday life.
It increases eye strain, headaches, difficulties to concentrate, and physical fatigue.
In the long term, prolonged exposure to artificial blue light can also lead to retinal damage and facilitate age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Macular degeneration is caused by the destruction of cells in the center of your eye retina. Your retina has natural screen protection, called melanin, against harmful blue light rays.
However, the melanin , which is the same component you find in the skin, degrade as part of the aging process, and we naturally lose our protection.
As such, seniors are more vulnerable to macular degeneration when the retina is left unprotected.
Unfortunately, chronic exposure to blue light can increase the risk of eye disease and disorders, even if you are young.
Indeed, over 60% of the population interact every day with blue light devices.
Almost half of all adults in a work environment (43%) have a job that requires the prolonged use of a screen, whether it is a computer, laptop, or tablet.
What is more alarming is the fact that over 70% of individuals who use screens regularly have reported eyestrain.
However, very few take preventive measures to reduce their discomfort, which puts their eye health at risk in the long term.
4. How To Protect Your Eyes From Blue Light
While the retina typically loses its natural melanin protection in old age, it doesn’t mean that eye health protection is limited to seniors.
Everyone needs protection from artificial blue light to reduce the risk of degenerative eye conditions.
Indeed, according to a study from Nielsen Company, the average adult in America spends over 10 hours per day looking at a digital device screen.
At the end of the year, you would have spent over 3,650 hours staring at a screen. Therefore, it’s crucial to take measures to keep every single eye healthy.
Ideally, people who work on computers and laptops should be wearing blue light glasses that can protect their eyes from harmful HEV rays.
You can find a stylish frame on our site to help block blue light.
But there are other actions you can take.
Taking regular breaks away from the screen can help to re-adjust your eyes and reduce eye fatigue. Ideally, you want to rest every 20 minutes or so and walk away from the screen for a few minutes.
However, it’s not always a suitable solution for a busy workplace.
You can actively take eye health supplements that help to protect the macular pigment at the center of your eye.
Lastly, people who use intraocular lenses to correct cataracts and myopia can benefit from added protection to the blue light.
In conclusion, you can’t afford to take risks with your eye health.
When you know how blue light can damage your eyes, you need to make it a priority to invest in suitable eye protection.
Remember, keeping your eyes healthy is the best way to maintain your quality of life and confidence.