Blue Light — What’s the Hype?
There’s been a lot of talk in recent months about the harmful effects of “blue light.” Whether or not you’ve heard of blue light, you’ve definitely seen it. Blue light is emitted both naturally by the sun and by digital devices. With so many people talking about blue light — and its possible damaging effects — it’s worth exploring the details. Read on…we’ve done the heavy lifting for you!
First of all, what is blue light? Blue light is a type of visible light that falls closely on the energy spectrum to damaging UV light. Even so, blue light can be beneficial in many ways. Primarily, it helps to regulate our sleep cycles. Whenever the sun is out, naturally-emitted blue light triggers the production of the melatonin in our bodies. Melatonin is an essential hormone that controls our circadian rhythm. Blue light can also boost the mood and increase cognitive function. Not bad, right?
The only problem with blue light is that our bodies will absorb all that it can take in. In other words, the eye’s natural filters are not capable of restricting absorption. What happens when we get too much blue light? While the validity of certain effects is still debated, greater risk of diabetes, depression, cancer, and eye damage are all considered to be results of blue light over-exposure. Time and continued research are bound to reveal more here.
One issue that people often talk about is how over-exposure can negatively affect the sleep cycle. Because so many electronic devices also produce blue light, our melatonin production can get out of sync which disrupts the sleep cycle. In today’s tech-heavy world, it’s common to be staring at blue light-producing devices for many hours each day, so how can we mitigate its negative effects?
The American Optometric Association recommends following the “20-20-20” rule: every 20 minutes, shift your focus to an object 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This simple exercise will prevent unnecessary eye strain due to blue light exposure. It’s also important to limit screen time in the hours before going to sleep. Doing so will allow your body to rely on the sun’s natural blue light for its melatonin production.
Be careful not to mistake binocular dysfunction for blue-light induced fatigue. You can take a self-assessment here to learn more.
If you are in a profession where you spend lots of time in front of a tablet or computer, consider blue-light filtering lenses. Otherwise, vary your daily activities and be wary of spending too much time in front of a screen. If your finding that you’re having eye fatigue, words doubling or blurring, or headaches when reading, this can be more than blue light exposure. Rather, these symptoms can be a sign of binocular dysfunction (eyes not working together well). If you’re concerned you might be struggling with binocular dysfunction, please schedule an appointment with us.