Blue Light Facts You Need to Know

Blue Light Exposure from Tablet
You may have heard about blue light recently. The concern over this specific type of light is growing, and manufacturers are even building safeguards into phones and tablets to limit the consumer’s exposure. But what is it, and is there really any cause for alarm? Like ultraviolet radiation, there are both benefits and dangers. Read on to learn 6 key points that you need to know.

1. What is blue light?

All light is made up of electromagnetic particles that travel in waves. Blue light has a wavelength of between approximately 380nm and 500nm which makes it the shortest, highest-energy wavelength. It can be harmful because it is the brightest visible light that most people are exposed to for long periods of time.

2. It’s everywhere.

While sunlight does contain blue light, there are many other sources that we are exposed to on a daily basis. Sources can be found in any bright white light. It’s also found in the digital screens of electronic devices; TVs, computers, laptops, smart phones and tablets. It can also be found in fluorescent and LED lighting, which are commonly used in office settings.

43% of adults work in a job that requires prolonged use of a computer or tablet, which leads to elevated levels of exposure.

3. The eye is not very good at blocking it.

Virtually all visible blue light passes through the cornea and lens and reaches the retina of our eyes. Simply put, our eyes are not able to block the it in the same way we can block UV light.

4. Exposure may increase the risk of macular degeneration.

Since our eyes are unable to block it, it makes prevention difficult. Especially considering all of the sources that we are exposed to everyday. Prolonged exposure could be cause of retinal damage and lead to macular degeneration – which can lead to vision loss.

5. It contributes to digital eye strain.

Nearly 70% of adults who use media devices regularly have experienced some symptoms of digital eyestrain. Digital eyestrain is a medical condition with serious symptoms that can affect learning and work productivity. Symptoms include blurry vision, difficulty focusing, dry and irritated eyes, headaches and neck and back pain. Digital eyestrain has overtaken carpal-tunnel syndrome as the #1 computer related complaint.

Research has shown that lenses that block blue light increase contrast significantly. If you spend more than 7 hours a day in front of any media device, computer glasses with yellow-tinted lenses may increase your comfort and reduce damage to your eyes.

6. Not all blue light is bad.

It does have benefits, so it should not be avoided altogether. The bright high-energy light has been shown to boost alertness and elevate the mood, as well as helping memory and cognitive functions. Another benefit is that it helps regulate the circadian rhythm, which is the body’s natural sleep and wake cycles. So getting some blue light during the day help to maintain a healthy balance. On the other hand, you should avoid looking at bright screens 1 – 2 hours before bed to help get a full night of rest.