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Good Blue Light vs. Bad Blue Light

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Learn the pros and cons of blue light

Blue light can boost your energy and improve your memory during the daytime. However, too much of it can also disrupt your sleep pattern and damage your eye health. Blue light has many benefits and potential risks. How can you make the most of it, while keeping your eyes safe and healthy? Our eye doctors in Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach, California, explain.

Where is blue light?

You are bombarded with blue light every time you step outdoors on a sunny day, switch on a light indoors, and turn on your computer, phone, or any digital gadget. Basically, blue light is everywhere – emitted in significant quantities by the display screens of all electronic devices. While the amount of blue light given off by digital screens is tiny compared to that emitted by the sun, people nowadays spend hours of each day using their devices and holding them very close to their face. As a result, many eye doctors are justifiably concerned about the long-term effects of this overexposure to blue light on visual health.

What is blue light?

Natural sunlight contains the whole spectrum of colored light wavelengths. On the spectrum of visible light, there are short wavelengths that are high energy and long wavelengths that have less energy. Blue light, also called blue-violet light, has the shortest wavelength and the highest energy of all, and it makes up about one-third of all visible light. (Once you go beyond the spectrum of visible light, there is ultraviolet (UV) radiation, invisible electromagnetic rays.)

Can the eye block blue light?

While the adult eye can naturally and effectively block many UV rays from reaching the retina at the back of the eyeball (And sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection are a great solution to block 100% of all UV light!), your eye cannot block blue light. Virtually all blue light makes it through the cornea and lens to reach the retina.

Why is blue light so bad for long-term eye health?

  • Studies have shown that blue light exposure may raise your risk of macular degeneration, because it reaches the retina and can damage these light-sensitive cells.
  • Blue light scatters easily, reducing visual contrast and exacerbating the symptoms of digital eye strain, causing symptoms such as headaches, eye fatigue, and blurry vision. Computer glasses with yellow-tinted lenses and a special blue light filter can help with this problem.
  • If you’ve had cataract surgery, more blue light can get through the artificial intraocular lens that replaced your natural lens, making you even more susceptible to the hazards of blue light.

When is blue light good for you?

The tricky part of blue light is that blocking it entirely also isn’t wise! Some blue light exposure is necessary to promote a strong memory, daytime alertness and energy, and a good mood. In fact, blue light is often used to treat a type of depression called SAD (seasonal affective disorder), which is related to changes in seasons. Before the sun sets each night, exposure to natural blue light also helps to regulate your healthy circadian rhythm, the body’s natural wake-sleep cycles. (That’s why too much artificial blue light late at night can disrupt sleep and lead to insomnia.) In sum, you need blue light in your life.

How can you protect your health from bad blue light?

Filters for digital devices are available to block blue light from reaching your eyes. If you use your computer, phone, tablet, or other digital tech constantly, these specialized filters and/or computer glasses may be a good investment. For personalized tips on how to stay safe from blue light, consult our eye doctors in Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach, California.

At Advanced Eyecare Center, we put your family's needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 310-620-1345 or book an appointment online to see one of our Manhattan Beach eye doctors.

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