In our technological age, we are constantly being exposed to artificial light through a variety of screens. From televisions to computers and mobile phones, these devices hold our attention for hours each day.
And while this equipment is constantly feeding you a stream of photos, videos and social media posts, they are also sending out something “invisible”: blue light. Experts believe blue light in high quantities can be harmful to human health in multiple ways, and it’s important you know how to avoid it.
What is blue light?
Blue light is a type of visible light on the spectrum, alongside other colors of light like red, yellow and green. Blue light has the shortest wavelength and the highest energy of all visible light, but has less energy than UV light, which has been the subject of even more concern.
Blue light is natural and is everywhere; it is present in sunlight, along with the other colors of light rays. Blue light is actually what makes the sky look blue. Despite being natural, though, it is also what many man-made electronic devices give off, such as LED lighting, fluorescent lighting, televisions, computers and mobile phones.
While blue light isn’t inherently a bad thing, how much time an individual spends looking at electronic screens at a close proximity and the significant amount of blue light they are exposed to each day could be harmful.
How blue light affects health
Blue light has been linked to a few distinct health problems, and its long-term effects are still being studied. We highlight three major health effects from blue light.
1. How blue light affects sleep
One of the major ways blue light affects you is by disrupting sleep. Blue light is very important during the day. Exposure to blue light helps regulate your circadian rhythm, the 24-hour body clock that controls different bodily processes, including sleep. When blue light exposure continues into the night, it can become disruptive.
Light exposure, in general, inhibits the production of melatonin—a hormone that triggers your body’s processes to get you ready for sleep. However, blue light tends to be more disruptive than other lights.
When melatonin production is stalled, you may have a harder time falling or staying asleep or may experience poor sleep. Not only can this result in you feeling tired and having a hard time focusing, but long-term sleep disruption has also been linked to diseases like diabetes and heart disease
2. How blue light affects mental health and mood disorders
Because blue light exposure can affect sleep, it can also begin to affect the brain and your mood
. Sleep disruption is a major factor in the development and maintenance of mood disorders.
Without enough quality sleep, you could be at a higher risk for developing depression, anxiety, bipolar and other mood disorders.
3. How blue light affects your vision
Most importantly, blue light is believed to cause trouble with vision. Almost all blue light is able to penetrate the eye to the retina. This has led experts to believe blue light exposure may lead to accelerated macular degeneration
—damage to cells in the retina that could lead to permanent vision loss.
In the short term, blue light exposure may also cause digital eye strain. Because it is higher energy, blue light scatters more easily and creates unfocused visual “noise” that is reduced in contrast and clarity. When your eyes are staring at unfocused light for too long, they’ll become strained, potentially causing headaches, dry eyes, irritated or sore eyes and difficulty concentrating.
Both adults and children are at risk for vision problems due to blue light exposure, but children’s eyes may suffer more because they are still developing and lack protective pigments in the eye.
Protecting yourself from the negative effects of blue light
Although blue light can have some negative consequences on your health, there are ways to protect yourself, including taking an eye health supplement such as Super Blue Vital Vision
Most importantly, try to limit your access to blue light throughout the day by spending less time staring at screens. Reducing exposure to electronics at night can also help reduce the impact blue light has on melatonin production, potentially improving your sleep.
To minimize eye strain, consider wearing special “blue light” glasses, which utilize a yellow lens to increase contrast, so the light is not as scattered for your eyes. Some computers and phones also have settings to reduce the blue light they emit or can be fitted with blue light filters that sit over the screens. Additionally, take short breaks from looking at screens to let your eyes refocus.
Finally, remember that while blue light exposure can have some negative effects on your vision and health, it’s not completely bad. Like most things, blue light is necessary—just in moderation. Blue light has been shown to increase memory and alertness, boost your mood and regulating circadian rhythms during the day.
By paying attention to how much blue light you expose yourself to every day, you’ll be able to maintain a healthy balance between too little and too much blue light.
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