HOW DOES BLUE LIGHT AFFECT YOU?
Dr. Jim Martin 03/28/2016
Blue light seems so innocuous. It illuminates the daytime sky. It reflects through water giving it the various shades of blue. But blue light is not as non-threatening as you might think. In fact, exposure to blue light in the wrong amounts or at the wrong times can have negative effects on the eyes as well as the rest of the body.
What Is Blue Light?
The sun emits a wide array of electromagnetic radiation. A small portion of that electromagnetic spectrum is what we refer to as visible light. It involves wavelengths between 400 and 700 nanometers. On the shorter end of the visible light spectrum lies blue. Red is on the other end.
Because blue light has shorter wavelengths than red, it emits more energy. This energy is what can wreak havoc on the human body.
Blue Light Interferes With Sleep
Blue light is something humans are naturally exposed to when they are out in the sunlight. It is more prominent in the mornings, with red light becoming more prominent as the day wanes and the night approaches.
Exposure to blue light suppresses melatonin, an essential hormone involved with the circadian rhythm. Waking up in the morning and going out into the blue-saturated sunlight helps wake you up. As evening approaches, the lower levels of blue light bring melatonin levels up, bringing on sleepiness.
The problem is that modern living has brought blue light into the night. TVs, computers, laptops, tablets, and smart phones all emit high levels of blue light. The presence of these light waves suppresses the body's melatonin levels, making it hard to go to sleep and stay asleep.
Blue Light Can Damage The Eyes
Recent research has shown that constant exposure to blue light may cause damage to the retina cells in the eyes.
Blue light waves can penetrate further into the eye than other wavelengths. The energy these waves emit can do damage to the color sensitive cells of the retina. This damage is cumulative, leading to gradual deterioration of the retina. This may cause problems with cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
Other Effects Of Blue Light Exposure
People who have too much exposure to blue light can experience other effects, both good and bad.
Blue light boosts alertness, helps improve memory, and enhances cognitive abilities. It helps elevate moods and regulates the body's sleep/wake cycle. On the other hand, blue light can cause digital eye strain. It can increase the chances of certain cancer types, heart disease, diabetes and obesity. It can cause increased depression.
With modern work environments, individuals are bombarded with bluelight, but there are ways to protect your eyes at work and at home. Download our free Workplace Eye Health infographic. If you want to see if blue light has affected your eyes, give the eye professionals at Broome Optical a call.