An ophthalmologist provides insight into the harms of excessive blue light, and simple consumer resolutions.
Short wavelength light, such as blue light, can cause photochemical damage to cells and their DNA, therefore every time you are exposed to blue light your cells/tissues are at risk of being damaged, leading to cell death which induces retinal damage in the eye.
Every minute you spend exposing your eyes to blue light increases the chances that you will do damage to your eye. In our eyes we have natural sunglasses that help block some of the blue light entering our eyes. Lutein and zeaxanthin work as antioxidants that neutralize free radicals created by blue light.
There are many different sources of blue light, with the sun being the biggest source of them all. However, as technology advances have occurred over the years, digital devices such as phones,tablets and LED lights have increased the amount of blue light we are exposed to on a daily basis. The amount of exposure we receive from these devices is what we call low intensity. This means the probability of damage is lower and therefore takes longer for the damage to accumulate.
Blue light is produced by light sources such as light bulbs in the household. Using lights that have a lower kelvin rating, e.g. 2700k will reduce the amount of blue light in the work environment and home space. This can be done by introducing a low blue light lamp into your office set up, as well as a bedside lamp. Reducing blue light decreases the light that is scattered most, decreasing glare and increasing contrast, thereby improving image quality and reducing eye fatigue.
By being exposed to blue light during the day this helps regulate the body's sleep cycle and promotes the production of melatonin as night time approaches. However, with the use of devices such as laptops and phones increasing, even late into the night, the body's circadian rhythm becomes disrupted, which can in turn adversely impact the quality of our sleep.
By increasing the amount of blue light exposure before bed, the body’s ability to produce melatonin becomes significantly impaired, therefore leading to problems sleeping and daytime sleepiness.
It is important to recognize that despite the bad rap that blue light gets, blue light is essential for good health as well. Blue light boosts alertness, helps memory and cognitive function and elevates mood. The biggest hing is that it regulates circadian rhythm—the body’s natural wake and sleep cycle.
The Oculamp is a blue light lamp that helps to keep your circadian rhythms in pattern by controlling the amount of blue light is given off. This is achieved by producing a calm white light when working for long periods of time, a night mode to help you unwind in the evening and a cool white, super bright light when it is important to have the space at its brightest.
Finally, another simple way to keep your circadian rhythms moving is to simply reduce the amount of time you spend in front of your digital devices. Protection of your circadian rhythms can be adopted by using physical light guards and protectors such as blue light blocking screen protectors and glasses.
Joshua Mali, MD, is a board-certified ophthalmologist and award-winning vitreoretinal surgeon at The Eye Associates, a private multi-specialty ophthalmology practice in Sarasota, Florida. He is the Retina Medical Director of the Macular Degeneration Association (MDA). He is also the Founder & CEO of Mali Enterprises (www.malienterprises.org).
The views expressed in this piece reflect those of the author, not necessarily those of the publication.
Clinicians and experts interested in responding to this piece, or submitting their own articles to HCPLive, can contact the editorial team here.