Chances are, you’ve heard of studies dealing with the effects of blue light on human eyes. You likely know blue light is often emitted by digital devices—you’re familiar with blue light sources in Cape Cod like computers, smart phones and tablets—but what exactly is blue light and how is it produced?
Blue light is just one of many colors located in the visible light spectrum the human eye can decipher. All light features electromagnetic particles that travel in waves. Those waves carry a certain energy, and range in length and strength. Shorter wavelengths have higher energy, and longer wavelengths have lower energy, with the lengths being measured in nanometers (billionths of a meter).
There are several main categories of waves: ultraviolet (UV), gamma rays, x-rays, visible light, infrared light and radio waves. The human eye is only sensitive to visible light, the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that shows up as colors. Think of the colors of the rainbow—red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. Long-term exposure to the bluer end of the spectrum, which has shorter wavelengths, could result in some long-term damage to the eyes.
Where blue light is located
Blue light exists all around you. The sun produces a broad spectrum of light, which includes light from the blue end of the spectrum. But in general, when we talk about blue light, we’re most likely to be referring to light that emanates from digital sources, including televisions, computers, laptops, tablets and smart phones, as well as light that comes from fluorescent devices and LEDs.
Blue light has shorter, higher energy waves. When they meet air molecules, they scatter around the atmosphere. This is what results in the sky appearing blue—those blue light waves interacting with the earth’s atmosphere. The body uses blue light to regulate sleeping and waking cycles, which is why you feel more alert in the presence of blue light, and why your reaction times might feel stronger. It’s also partly why you are more likely to feel happy and energized on days when the sun is shining.
However, the more exposure you have to blue light, the more your body’s circadian rhythm is likely to be affected. Constant exposure to the flickering of blue light on electronic devices can result in headaches, eye strain and fatigue. It can inhibit your ability to get a good night’s sleep. This is because the natural filters in your eyes do not provide enough constant protection against major blue light exposure. You could experience some retinal damage, as well as increase your likelihood of cataracts or macular degeneration.
Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to limit these effects. You can take breaks from screens, even if you’re required to use screens for work. Even just looking away for a few minutes each hour can be very beneficial. You can also wear contact lenses that help block out blue light effects. The technology of these lenses is constantly improving.
For more information about sources of blue light in Cape Cod, contact the team at Bayview Optometrics today.