What is Blue Light?
Emitted from the sun, blue light is naturally occurring in the world around us. On the spectrum of visible light (light that humans can see), blue light has the highest energy and the shortest wavelength.
It is also sometimes known as blue-violet or violet light, which is where ultraviolet (UV) light rays that are just beyond our perception get their name. Much like ultraviolet light, blue light has both dangers and benefits to our health, particularly to our eyes.
This is what we expose our eyes to whenever we stare at the screen of our digital devices. Prolonged exposure strains your eyes, messes with your sleep cycle, and likely causes serious long-term damage.
What are the Potential Dangers of Blue Light?
Research is still being done to determine the long-term effects of blue light or high-energy visible (HEV) light emission, however, it is known is that blue light is a cause of computer vision syndrome (CVS) and sleep disruptions.
The high energy and shorter wavelengths of blue or HEV light emit a less consistent flow of light, creating glare or flickering that can cause eye strain. Because sharpness and visual contrast are affected by this, the eyes have to work harder to see clearly. After extended periods of time, this can result in headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes, and mental and physical fatigue.
Dry eyes, fatigue, bad lighting, and the way you sit in front of your computer can also contribute to eye strain. Typically, you will feel discomfort, soreness, and perhaps a blurred vision. At times, you may find it difficult to focus on.
Natural blue light in the atmosphere is known to help regulate the body’s circadian rhythm (which controls your sleep cycles), to boost your mood and level of alertness and to improve memory and cognitive function.
However, prolonged exposure to artificial sources of blue light has been shown to reverse these positive effects, causing disruptions in the circadian rhythm which affects sleep, as well as an increased risk of depression. Studies show that using a digital device before bedtime can negatively impact the amount and quality of your sleep.
Researchers at Harvard University have shown that over time, prolonged exposure to blue light can cause damage to the retina at the back of your eye, which may lead to age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and possibly other serious health and vision problems. AMD is a leading cause of vision loss and low vision.
Recent studies have shown that overexposure of the eyes to blue light can damage the retinal cells. This may lead to vision issues such as age-related macular degeneration which eventually leads to permanent loss of vision.
Research shows that overexposure to blue light reduces melatonin production. Melatonin is a hormone that affects our bodies circadian rhythms, which regulate sleep among other processes. Recent experimental evidence at Harvard University also indicates a correlation between lower levels of melatonin and the associated frequency of cancer.