Artificial light is a major component of modern society, as we no longer need to rely on the sun as our main source of illumination. And our eyes can detect and manifest (in the form of color) a range of light. In a spectrum, these colors arranged from longer to shorter wavelengths are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet. In today’s society, we are seeing a radical increase of blue light between our cell phone screens, laptops, LED lights, and other illuminated items. Like many things, blue light has drawbacks and advantages.
Blue light is a very high energy, short wavelength visible light. It has been shown to boost our attention and mood during the day, yet it can also interfere with our body’s ability to produce melatonin, the sleep hormone that helps regulate our ability to have deep sleep. By exposing ourselves to blue light, it can send messages to our brain to stop producing melatonin and therefore leaving us awake and alert when we need sleep.
Blue light is absorbed directly into the eye and is not screened, such as through the use of sunglasses. Some companies have developed eyeglasses specially made to reduce blue light exposure. But the biggest threat blue light has on our health is its role in the development of macular degeneration. Blue light penetrates our eye and causes retina damage in the form of photo-oxidation. This gradual oxidation and deterioration of the macula accumulate and leads to increased risk of macular degeneration.
Therefore, people who have had cataracts, are predisposed due to genetics, or children are particularly at risk of the harmful effects of blue light. Ask your family eye care professional if you are concerned about blue light exposure.