Blue light exposure is unavoidable — it’s given off by the sun after all. But how much blue light do your eyes take in every day? Many experts are worried that the increase in artificial sources of this light exposure can lead to eye and health issues. Are you at risk?
What Is Blue Light?
Technically, blue light has wavelengths ranging from 380 nanometers to 500 nanometers. While these wavelengths are shorter than other types of visible light, they contain more energy. This is why it is considered high energy visible light, or HEV.
This type contains the most energy of any type of light on the visible light spectrum, because just beyond it comes ultraviolet radiation. UV rays get the most attention when it comes time to discuss eye health, but this type poses its own unique risks.
Where Does It Come From?
It is emitted by the sun, but it also comes from many gadgets used in daily life, such as LED and fluorescent light bulbs, computers, tablets, phones and television screens. Even though the amount given off by digital devices is significantly smaller than the amount you’re exposed to through sunlight, most people spend quite a bit of time each day in front of various types of screens.
Your Sleep May Be Affected
In the short term, it may be having a devastating effect on your sleep. If you find yourself extremely tired when you wake up in the morning, consider this: Too much exposure close to bedtime can disrupt circadian rhythms. Blue light tells your body and brain to wake up and stay alert, thereby reducing the amount of melatonin secreted. It can lead to insomnia and sleep deprivation.
Risk of Macular Degeneration
Over the long term, it could increase your risk of developing macular degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss due to retinal deterioration. While your eye has the ability to block most UV rays, almost all of this type of light penetrates the cornea, lens and reaches the retina.
Over time, the sensitive cells in the retina can begin to die, with vision loss following. Macular degeneration can be slowed and potentially stopped, but it is not a curable condition. Research on the connection between blue light exposure and the condition is ongoing, as the exact amounts that are actually harmful are currently unknown.
What Should You Do?
If you are in a profession that requires you to stare at a computer screen throughout the day, consider purchasing tinted protective glasses that help lessen the amount that makes contact with your eye. Try to stop watching television or browsing the internet before bed, and definitely keep your smartphone out of your bedroom. Your eyes will be healthier and your sleep will be regenerative.
Contact Salt Lake Eye Associates to set up your annual eye exam. Be sure to ask about the risks of blue light as it relates to eye health and whole-body wellness — you can get professional recommendations on how to adapt your lifestyle to minimize the risks.