Is blue light affecting our quality of life?
Blue light is all around us - we're exposed to it on our laptops, smartphones, fluorescent lighting, and even the from the sun. However, this light can be harmful and affect the quality of our lives. How can you stay safe?
- 43% of us spend considerable time exposed to blue light while we’re at work.
- According to research from Harvard, blue light exposure late at night has links to some types of cancer, heart conditions, obesity, and even diabetes.
- Apple released the iOS 9.3 update in 2016 called Night Shift. At night, your phone will automatically shift from blue light to a warmer light to reduce your blue light exposure and interfere less with your circadian rhythm.
- Not all blue light is bad. In fact, when used at the right time of day, it can actually boost your alertness, improve your memory, and lift your spirits.
Over the years, we’ve always known that UV light exposure is bad for our eyes as well as our skin. We take measures to keep ourselves safe from exposure through sunglasses and sunscreen. But, are we taking enough steps to stay safe from the blue light rays that are equally harmful? 60% of people spend more than six hours a day in front of a digital device. This causes undue stress on our eyes with that much exposure to blue light. Whether it’s at work or at home browsing your phone or computer screen, blue light is accelerating the way stress gets into our lives. It seems quite normal to stare at digital screens all day but, quite surprisingly, it is actually affecting our quality of life.
What is blue light?
Blue light is a colour in the “visible light spectrum” that can be seen by the human eye.
The visible light spectrum is a portion of the electromagnetic light wave which is visible to us. In simpler words, it’s the portion of light we can see. Now, the visible light spectrum consists of the seven rainbow colors – violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange, and red. Blue light is a part of this spectrum which comes with a lot of energy. Don’t confuse it with the blue part of the rainbow colors. Blue light is a completely different segment and long exposure can cause severe damage to your eyes as well as your quality of life.
Where is blue light?
Blue light is all around us and is present in our everyday lives. Some sources of blue light are:
- The sun
- Digital screens including your computer, TV, smartphone, laptop, and tablet
- Electronic devices
- Fluorescent and LED lighting
Increase in blue light exposure
As you can see the spectrum above, blue light isn’t totally harmful. However, increased exposure to digital screens over the years is what makes it a big concern. The electronic devices that we use have LED backlight technology. This is what gives devices brighter screens and clarity. But, this technology also increases your level of blue light exposure. So, when you are checking your phone in the wee hours of the night or working those late-night shifts on your computer, you’re actually exposing yourself to an increased level of blue light. This can eventually harm your eyes in addition to cause a lot of side effects.
Note: Spending just two consecutive hours on a digital device can cause eyestrain and fatigue.
In fact, based on a recent Harvard study, “even dim light can interfere with a person’s circadian rhythm and melatonin secretion. A mere eight lux—a level of brightness exceeded by most table lamps and about twice that of a night light—has an effect,” explains Stephen Lockley, a Harvard sleep researcher. Plus, this light after dark is also to blame for people not getting enough sleep. As a result of poor sleep, we’re at a greater risk for cardiovascular problems, diabetes, and even depression.
What are the major side effects?
Not all blue light is bad. But, if you are not careful, increased blue light exposure can cause a plethora of health problems. This list is enough to encourage even night owl workers to limit their exposure:
- Digital eyestrain syndrome
- Greater risk of certain types of cancers
- Greater risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity
- Increased risk of depression
- Permanent eye damage
- Sleep disorders
- Disruptions to your circadian rhythm
How can you stay safe?
Firstly, let us make it clear that all blue light is not bad. If used at the right time of the day, you can actually lift your mood, boost alertness, and even improve your memory. Blue light is even used to help those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
But, for those who struggle to keep their eyes off screens and safe from blue light exposure, there are solutions out there:
- Use blue light glasses to beat everyday pounding headaches
- Follow a strict schedule to control blue light exposure at work
- Use amber instead of clear lenses for 2 hours before bedtime to combat insomnia
- The AYO Blue Light Wearable helps you beat jet lag, sleep better, and have more energy
- There’s also the PupilBox Blue Light Protection System which rejuvenates your eyes from the effects of digital eye strain
Blue light exposure alone isn’t going to make you go blind in one day. If you use the right gadgets as well as balance your exposure to digital screens every day, you can avoid all sorts of damage. But, given the rate at which we are letting social media engulf our lives, do you think you’ll be able to stay away from the screen for long? To start, try it for 30 minutes today and see for yourself!
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