We are all familiar with sunlight, and many of us are aware that sunlight consists of a variety of colours, both visible and invisible to the human eye. Each of these colours represents a different energy wavelength. Most of us should be familiar with the effects of Ultraviolet (UV) rays on our skin. If you have made the mistake of looking directly into the sun, or even snow on a sunny day, you will also be aware of what UV radiation can do to your eyes. But there is another light that is becoming almost as much of a concern, and that is Blue Light.
What is Blue Light?
Blue light, also known as High Energy Visible (HEV) Light is another member of the light spectrum, much like UV light. For those of you who have seen a rainbow, it should be no surprise that blue light is at the same end of the solar light spectrum as UV light. In fact, it has much in common with UV light. For instance, they both have short wavelengths, which means that they have the highest energy. This energy can have both positive and negative effects. As you know UV radiation provides us with the necessary amount of vitamin D to live healthy lives, as well as warming us and giving an all over happy, healthy feeling. But too much UV radiation can give us a nasty sunburn. Excessive eye expose to UV rays can damage our eyes and may even lead to blindness. Well, the same is true about blue light, and these days we get much more blue light than we ever did in the past.
Where can you be exposed to Blue Light?
Blue light, of course, is a part of sunlight and, in fact, is what makes the sky appear blue. However, just as UV light can be found in tanning beds, blue light is also found in a number of artificial sources. Sources of blue light include TVs, LED lighting, fluorescent lighting, and many electronic devices including smart phones, computer screens and tablets.
Pros and Cons of Blue Light
As with most things in life, blue light in moderation is good for you. It boosts attention, strengthens memory, elevates your mood and increases your reaction time. Good things, right? But we no longer live in a moderate world, especially when it comes to blue light. With electronic screens literally in our faces day and night, we are getting much more blue light exposure now than any time in history. Just as over exposure to UV rays can lead to sunburn and even skin cancer, this over exposure to blue light also has a negative effect on our body. Where blue light is beneficial during daylight hours, the time you would normally get it from the sun, at night it begins to affect our circadian rhythm, which regulates our waking and sleeping cycle, leading to restlessness, difficulty sleeping at night and fatigue during the day.
The Dangers of Blue Light to Your Vision
When it comes to your eyesight, there are also a number of negative effects of over exposure to blue light. Your eye comes with some natural protection from UV rays, but virtually no protection from blue light, so nearly all of it reaches right through to the retina. This is not a problem for short time periods, but extended exposure can lead to eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision and Computer Vision Syndrome. It also increases the risk of Dry Eye Syndrome, Macular Degeneration and potentially increases the risk of Cataracts.
How Can You Protect Yourself from Blue Light
There are a number of ways to protect yourself from blue light. The best way is to minimize your exposure. Take a break from your computer from time to time and rest your eyes. Put down your smartphone and tablet. You can also get blue light filters for your screens to protect your eyes. You may even want to look into getting Computer Glasses, mid-range glasses meant for looking at computer screens with built in blue light protection. Schedule an appointment with your optometrist to find out if computer glasses are for you. Your optometrist can also advise you on other ways to protect your eyes from blue light. Your eyes will thank you.