Blue light refers to blue wavelengths in light, which are some of the shortest and highest energy wavelengths in light. Blue light comes from the sun, LED lighting, computers, television screens, and smartphones. While some blue light is necessary for maintaining good health, too much could have negative consequences.
Impact on the Eyes
Blue light isn’t as easily focused as other wavelengths, so exposure to blue light for extended periods can contribute to eye strain. The eye also has trouble blocking blue light, so blue light reaches the retina with each exposure. Over time, this may cause damage to the retina and potentially contribute to eye issues.
Some studies have linked prolonged exposure to blue light with symptoms similar to macular degeneration. While longer exposure to blue light and increased risks for macular degeneration haven’t been definitively linked at this point, researchers warn that excessive exposure to blue light may contribute to vision problems over time.
Blue light has shown to directly influence the circadian rhythms. Exposure to blue light increases attentiveness, gives us a mood boost, and quickens reaction times. While these effects are productive during the day, they may become harmful when blue light exposure continues into the night.
Exposure to blue light during the day has shown to be conducive to restfulness at night, but the opposite is true of exposure to blue light at night. Exposure to blue light at night can make it difficult for some people to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night. Exposure to blue light at night has been linked to decreased levels of melatonin, the hormone that the body produces to regulate sleep.
Working the night shift and being exposed to blue light at night has been linked to increased risks for depression, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and a few different types of cancer. How nighttime exposure to blue light is instrumental in causing these conditions isn’t completely clear, but researchers believe it may have something to do with the decrease in melatonin.
Tips for Managing Blue Light Exposure
Managing blue light exposure may help to mitigate some health risks while optimizing the positive effects of blue light. Simple changes like using dim red lights at home at night instead of white LEDs can prevent the circadian rhythms from being affected. Staying away from screens for a few hours before bedtime can be helpful, too.
If you work nights or must work in front of a screen for many hours, wearing certain eyewear can limit the amount of blue light that the retinas are exposed to. If you do notice changes in your health that can be linked to blue light exposure, use your health insurance to see a doctor. A doctor may have more specific tips for lifestyle changes to limit blue light that can prevent serious conditions later.