What is Blue Light?
Blue light is part of the visible spectrum of light that your eyes see every day. Since it has the shortest wavelength, it emits the most energy. We need blue light for proper mood management, alertness, memory and cognitive function. However, blue light reaches deeper into the eye and is thought to cause retinal damage. Science is still working on this problem, but an excess of blue light may increase a person’s risk of macular degeneration, cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
Why Has Blue Light Received so Much Attention Recently?
Because of the electronics we use every day, we are being exposed to more blue light than ever before. Smart phones, tablets, computers, flat screen TV’s and even LED light bulbs emit strong doses of blue light. The average American spends nearly half a day staring at screens. Our circadian rhythms can get unbalanced because blue light signals our bodies that it is daytime. The average person’s circadian rhythm is set at 24.25 hours, shorter for “early birds” and longer for “night owls.” When we are trying to fall asleep, blue light can keep us awake, or decrease the quality of sleep we get at night. Blue light can also contribute to digital eyestrain and the resulting headaches.
What Can I do About It?
Avoid screens at night 2-3 hours before you would like to go to sleep. If your job requires you to be at a computer screen all day, try to look up periodically and focus your eyes farther away to avoid eyestrain. Use red lights at night because they emit the least amount of blue light. If you have an alarm clock for instance, use one with a red display. Wear computer glasses or “blue blockers” at night to reduce the amount of blue light you are exposed to. There are also filters you can put in front of your screens to block some of the blue light.