What is Blue Light?

November 09, 2019

THE PROBLEM: DIGITAL EYE STRAIN

If you’re like us, you spend several hours a day in front of a computer screen or digital device. The problem is that our eyes are not designed to be exposed to blue light emitted by computer screens, phones, and television constantly.

This strong blue light causes eye fatigue, dry eyes, blurred vision, headaches - symptoms of digital eye strain also known as Computer Vision Syndrome.

Beyond damaging the eyes, exposure to blue light at night disrupts the circadian rhythm that regulates the release of melatonin, preventing us from falling asleep easily and degrading sleep quality.

Blue light also known as high-energy visible blue light (HEV) has high frequency and short wavelengths similar to UV light. Prolong exposures to blue light has shown to damage the retina, the part of the eye that detects qualities such as color and light intensity.

Because your eyes are working extra hard to cope with the blue light, you begin to experience eye strain. Over sustained periods, the exposure can contribute to long-term vision issues such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Sleep Disruption

At night, blue light disrupts our circadian rhythm, the natural release of hormones (melatonin). The blue light tricks our brain into believing that it is day-time, which makes falling asleep more difficult and lowers our sleep quality. Circadian disruption produces serious downstream effects including increase in obesity and depression.

We can help

Our blue light upgrade on all regular glasses costs only $19 to any pair of glasses, and are designed to block harsh blue light, reduce your eye strain, and give you back a good night sleep. You don't need a prescription to get this add on feature. Just choose with lenses option when buying any pair, then let us know if you have a prescription or not. When choosing lens type, choose BLUE LIGHT [+$19].

WHAT IS BLUE LIGHT?

When you were growing up, you might have heard the phrase, “if you watch too much TV, you’ll get square eyes”. Let’s face it, mum or dad would probably be shocked if they saw how much time you spent in front of a screen today.

Whether it’s watching Netflix, flicking through Linkedin or putting together a spreadsheet, all these activities have one thing in common: screen time.

Today, we’ve all pretty much come to accept that digital devices and screens are a part of everyday life. But you might be wondering, what does all this screen time mean for our eyes?

If you’ve ever Googled the subject, you probably came across the term ‘blue light’. Yes, screens emit blue light. But is it all bad?

In this article, you’ll learn about blue light, what it means for you and tips to help you manage your exposure.

BLUE LIGHT EXPOSURE IN MODERN LIFE

One problem is that our eyes aren’t designed to be good at blocking blue light. It’s why blue light has been linked to something called Computer Vision, a condition that encompasses a range of symptoms including headaches, blurred vision and eye strain amongst others.

What’s undeniable is that our habits have changed dramatically in just the last few years. Widescreen TVs, laptops, and smartphone usage are all relatively new phenomenons. Now it’s normal to be using a screen for most of the day.

Today, manufacturers use brighter LED lights because they are more efficient. LED screens are also thinner, lighter, longer-lasting and have a better color resolution. But, it’s these brighter LED lights - along with modern-day habits - that expose us to more blue light than ever before.

WHY (SOME) BLUE LIGHT IS GOOD

Blue light isn’t all bad though. You might be surprised to hear that the blue light is good for us in some ways.

Research shows that HEV light - in the right amounts - promotes alertness, boosts memory, improves cognitive function and elevates mood.

It’s these positive effects that are behind the reason why people use HEV to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression resulting from lack of daylight during winter months.

Mood changes can be common during the winter months, where sunlight is reduced. But for people with SAD, it can result in more severe mood alterations. Studies have shown that blue light can help alleviate some of those symptoms.

Without us even realizing, it helps regulate our sleep/wake cycle and biological clock if we’re exposed to it in the right doses, at the right time. Being exposed to blue light during the day determines our circadian rhythm.

VIEWS ON HIGH-ENERGY VISIBLE LIGHT

It’s fair to say there is growing concern about the effects that screen use is having on our lives.

Research on blue light is in its early stages so the scientific proof is still limited to short-term findings. Much like other modern phenomenons such as vaping, there is not enough long-term data to back claims with evidence.

One thing all experts agree on is the role exposure to blue light plays in regulating our sleep patterns. The amount of artificial LED lighting we are exposed to has increased in terms of time, intensity and proximity.

Some organizations are starting to become more vocal about the harmful effects posed by HEV light exposure.

Chief Medical Officer for England, Dame Sally Davies has called for more research: “I note “there is increasing public and policy concern about the impact of computer/smartphone screen use, and ‘blue light’, upon human health.

Research is on-going and this is an important area of investigation, particularly given children’s use of social media via smartphones, increasing their exposure to potential risk”.

More seriously, the Barcelona Institute of Global Health has linked blue light exposure to increased risk of breast and prostate cancer.

For some perspective, it’s worth taking into account that smoking was once considered healthy and heroin used to be used in cough syrup. Sometimes it takes time for the research to catch up to reality.

REDUCING YOUR BLUE LIGHT EXPOSURE

Fortunately, if you want to reduce your exposure to blue light, there are a few easy ways you can moderate the amount of artificial HEV light you come into contact with:

USE AN APP:

Software like flux can reduce the amount of blue light that is emitted by your monitor. It works by adjusting the color temperature on your digital display. Best of all, it’s free. There are a few things to consider though.

Since flux works by changing the color temperature of your screen - which can be relaxing for your eyes - viewing your display in a yellowish hue can be disruptive in some situations.

If you’re doing any work or activity that involves seeing the colors on the screen for what they are (graphic design, for example), then fitting flux around your routine can be a challenge.

COMPUTER GLASSES:

 Blue light blocking glasses are another great way to reduce blue light exposure. At LUMES we offer blue light blocking glasses that come with transparent lenses. The reason our glasses come with transparent lenses is for two main reasons.

Firstly, color perception won’t be affected but a considerable % of blue light will still be filtered. Secondly, transparent lenses blend with your style. Most people don’t want to walk around in glasses with yellow lenses and we don’t expect you to either.

LUMES lenses are also anti-glare too, which will keep your eyes feeling more relaxed.

STEP AWAY FROM THE SCREEN:

Take a break from your screen now and again. This will reduce the amount of blue light you’re exposed to during the day and it will also give you the added benefit of some exercise too.

A good way to remember to take breaks is the 20-20-20 rule: it recommends that every 20 minutes, you look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. Use Google Chrome? Try out the LUMES 20-20-20 timer extension.

POWER DOWN AT NIGHT:

The evening is a great time to reduce your blue light exposure. If your work involves screen use then it can be challenging to limit HEV light exposure during the day. However, when you're relaxing at home, why not keep the hours before bed blue light free.






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