From the day we are born, our eyes are subjected to the harmful effects of ultra-violet light, and now there is growing research into the harmful effects of over-exposure to visible blue-violet rays ( wavelengths 415 and 455 nm) that make up the spectrum of natural light.
All most all everyone uses screen based technology. Whether it is your smart device, the computer at work, school or home, screens are all around us and they all emit blue light. In addition, we subject our eyes to artificial blue light emitted from solid state lighting (SSL) and light emitting diodes (LEDs), which are rapidly replacing the old incandescent and compact fluorescent lamps.
There is growing medical evidence that prolonged exposure to blue light may permanently damage the eyes by increasing oxidative stress, which means the nutritional needs to provide continual protection and repair (such as anti-oxidants) to the eye cells cannot keep up with cell activity/stimulation.
This process of oxidative damage is thought to contribute to the formation of cataracts and to the destruction of cells in the centre of the retina leading to conditions such as macular degeneration. The exact amount of damage depends on the accumulated dose to which the person has been exposed, which can be the result of a high intensity short exposure but can also appear after low intensity exposure repeated over long periods.
It is a concern that children are increasingly more vulnerable to the effects of blue light due to increasing use of tablets, computers and other devices for education use, social media and gaming, combined with their eyes’ immature crystalline (focussing) lens that is less able to block blue light.
Not only can our blue light exposure affect our long term ocular health, it can also affect our sleep patterns set by our body’s natural circadian rhythms. While light of any kind can suppress the secretion of melatonin, according to a study conducted by Harvard researchers, blue light does so more powerfully.
In recognition of the growing concern about the harmful effects of blue light, many of the international lens laboratories have already introduced blue light blocking lenses. that offer selective protection against harmful blue light and UV.
Below are some recommendations for decreasing you and your children’s risk of accumulated blue light exposure and oxidative damage:
- Talk to your Optometrist/optician about blue-light blocking lenses in your glasses.
- Enjoy a diet rich in eye health foods or use supplements to protect macular health.
- When in front of a computer, tablet, smartphone or television turn the brightness to the lowest comfortable setting, instead using the contrast adjustment to enhance vision. Try to avoid using blue coloured backgrounds and put some distance between the eyes and the light source.
- Replace blue light headlights with regular headlights – reflections from these lights that bounce off bonnets, buildings etc can be harmful to drivers and passengers.
- Attach a blue light neutralising screen over electronic display devices, particularly before bedtime, there are also computer programs that can be downloaded that vary blue light emission and screen brightness across the day.
Melanie Kell | 27 January 2014 https://www.mivision.com.au/finding-the-balance-in-blue-light-8/