If you own a smartphone or a laptop (and these days, that’s most of us) you may have heard about the phenomenon of ‘blue light’ and the impact it can have on your health. In this blog, we’ll look at just what blue light is, and how you can avoid any negative effects of being exposed to it.
WHAT IS BLUE LIGHT?
First of all, it’s important to know that blue light is entirely natural. It’s part of the visible light spectrum and we need it in our lives – it helps to regulate our body clock (or circadian rhythm). That’s the internal ‘mechanism’ that makes us feel sleepy at night, and wake up in the mornings.
Our daily rhythms are influenced by a hormone called melatonin. The levels of melatonin in our bodies are lowest early in the morning – so we feel awake and alert. Our melatonin levels rise during the day until we go to bed. Anything that interferes with our body clock can cause issues including insomnia, fatigue and drowsiness. Blue light actually suppresses the production of melatonin, making us feel unusually alert and awake.
Whereas natural light is a ‘balance’ of all forms of visible light, the screens on phones, tablets and other devices produce mostly blue light. Looking at your phone late at night – like scrolling through social media after you’ve gone to bed – can cause you to feel more awake, just when you need a good night’s rest.
There are other reasons why too much blue light is not ideal. Excessive amounts of any bright light can irritate your eyes, and long days in front of your computer can cause your eyes to feel dry and irritated. You can also experience digital eye strain (because blue light scatters easily and contributes to unfocused ‘visual noise’) and fatigue. Over time, exposure to blue light can cause macular degeneration if the light-sensitive cells in your retina are damaged.
Definitely not! As we mentioned earlier, receiving some blue light is important for good health. As well as helping to regulate your body’s rhythms, blue light can help increase alertness, boost your memory, and even put you in a better mood.
Being exposed to blue light regularly can also avoid the onset of SAD – seasonal adjustive disorder, or winter depression.
In other words, some blue light is a good thing – but too much can cause problems. So, what’s the solution?
Rather than blocking out all blue light, follow our advice to ensure you get the amount you need, without receiving too much.
- If your phone or tablet has a blue light filter setting, activate it!
- Take regular screen breaks during the day.
- Reduce screen use during the evening, and try and stop completely some time before you go to bed.
- Never take your phone to bed with you – those messages can wait until the morning.
The best solution to excessive blue light exposure is to ask your Vision Works optometrist about our Smart Blue Light LensesTM. Specially manufactured by lens experts Hoya, these lenses are designed to filter out most – but not all – blue light.
They’re suitable for day-long use and let you use screens in comfort, whilst still receiving the natural amounts of blue light you need to feel awake and sleepy at the right times.
Spend R1 200 or more on a frame, add a pair of lenses with a minimum SHV ARC and receive a free pair of prescription lenses! For your free second pair of lenses (excluding frame), choose from anti-reflective coating (ARC), Blue Light Coating or Tinted Lenses (sunglasses) in Single Vision or PAL Lens options.