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.
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.