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Banishing blue light's harmful effects

At this very moment, do you think you can let go of your smartphone, tablet, laptop and flat-screen TV? Chances are you’ll say no, because you use them for work or leisure, or both.


The problem with all of these items is that they emit blue light, a term for visible light rays that have the shortest wavelengths at 380 to 550 millimeters, but have the highest amount of energy.

Most people are exposed to blue light during the daytime, since the sun is its main source. This natural, daytime exposure can work wonders for your health, as blue light is known to help maintain an ideal circadian rhythm, boost alertness and mood, and improve memory and cognitive function.

Also, if you have to undergo light therapy to alleviate seasonal affective disorder (SAD), take note that this treatment method uses bright white light, which contains some blue light rays. But, it’s other blue exposures that can be worrisome.

For example, folks who stay in office or school buildings can be exposed to additional blue light through digital devices or LED lights. While this is a normal part of the digital life these days, health professionals warn that increased blue light exposure may raise your risk for health issues.

From a vision standpoint, your eyes aren’t as good at blocking blue light compared to ultraviolet rays. In most cases, blue light just passes through the cornea and lens, reaching the retina. In the long term, this may increase your risk for problems like:

  • Damage to your retina’s light-sensitive cells that may increase your risk of macular degeneration, considered the leading cause of legal blindness
  • Reduced production of melatonin, a hormone that plays a major role in your body clock
  • Disturbances in your sleep cycle and daytime fatigue (because lack of sleep is linked to decreased melatonin stores)
  • Insulin resistance and myopia or nearsightedness
  • Digital eye strain because of contrast-reducing unfocused visual “noise” from screens that emit blue light

If you’re worried about the effects linked to frequent blue light exposure, you can prevent them by making some lifestyle tweaks!

Try wearing blue light-blocking glasses from 7 p.m. until you go to bed, or after noon each day if you’re consistently using a digital device. In particular, computer glasses with yellow-tinted lenses may raise comfort when you use your devices for extended periods.

Some blue light-blocking glasses can be purchased without a prescription, if your vision doesn’t need improvement or if you’re wearing contact lenses. Some glasses may also be prescribed just for computer use, depending on your viewing distance when using digital devices. You can also look into glasses brands that offer features like:

  • Special glare-reducing antireflective coatings — They aid in blocking out blue light either from the sun or from digital devices.
  • Photochromic lenses — They help protect your eyes against UV rays and blue light, whether indoors or outdoors. Photochromic lenses also automatically darken when you go outside and exposed to UV rays.

Applying a blue light filter for smartphones, tablets and computer screens may be a good idea too. It reduces the amount of blue light that reaches your eyes while retaining the device’s optimal display.

If you want to know more about the potential effects of blue light and other ways you can combat frequent exposure to it, read this article.

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