Blue light is not new by any means, but the prevalence of blue light in our daily lives has increased exponentially with the widespread popularity of blue light-emitting devices such as computers and smartphones, as well as energy-efficient LED light bulbs and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). With a significant number of people carrying a smartphone and spending a good portion of their day in front of a computer screen, and with LED light bulbs increasingly becoming the standard for homes, offices and business settings, it’s a good idea to know how blue light affects your eyes and the benefits of blue light blocking glasses and sunglasses.
What Is Blue Light?
Blue light is part of the visible light spectrum. It has a short wavelength, meaning it is a higher-energy wavelength. Blue light occurs naturally in sunlight and is an important part of the sleep-wake cycle. Digital devices with screens and LED and CFL lighting implements also produce high levels of blue light.
The visible spectrum includes waves between 380-780 nm. Below this range is ultraviolet (UV) light, and below this range is infrared (IR) light. Blue light falls in the range of 400-465 nm, with the most harmful rays being between 415-455 nm.
How Does Blue Light Affect You?
The human eye evolved a sensing mechanism that solely detects when it is daylight and when it is not. These sensors respond mostly to blue light, and when there is a significant amount of blue light, our brain is alerted that it is daytime. Hence, blue light is directly tied to our circadian rhythm, the cycle that determines when our body feels tired and alert.
Blue wavelengths are beneficial during daylight hours because they boost attention, reaction times and mood. According to Harvard Health, blue light wavelengths suppress the body’s secretion of melatonin, the hormone that regulates your sleep-wake cycles. So, exposure to blue light at night continues to alert your brain that it is daytime, disrupting your body’s natural circadian rhythm.
Blue light can also contribute to digital eye strain. With its short, high-energy wavelengths, blue light scatters more easily and is not as easily focused. This means that when looking at electronic devices that emit significant amounts of blue light, the unfocused visual “noise” reduces contrast, which can lead to digital eye strain.
Over time, blue light can also have lasting physical effects. Because blue wavelengths reach further back into the human eye, prolonged exposure over time can cause damage to the retina. Certain wavelengths have even been tied to the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Blue Light Isn’t All Bad
While we have highlighted a number of the negative side effects of blue light, it is important to note that not all blue light is bad. In fact, the light within the blue-turquoise range (between 465-495 nm) is essential to our vision and our general well-being, so it is important to be exposed to this range. This is the range that helps to regulate your circadian rhythm.
Tips for Reducing the Effects of Blue Light
- Expose yourself to lots of light during the day. It sounds counterintuitive, but exposure to light during the day (even blue light) helps to reinforce your circadian rhythm. Just remember to protect your eyes from harmful UV and blue light.
- Dial down the blue light on your digital devices. Most smartphones, tablets, and computer screens can be adjusted to shift the color of the screen to reduce blue light. If your device doesn’t have this feature available in the settings, there are apps such as Twilight or Night Shift that provide the same feature.
- Try not to use electronic devices with bright screens for at least an hour before bed. It may be hard to stay off your phone, tablet, and computer in the evenings, but when you wake to feel rested, it will be well worth it.
- Use blue light blocking glasses. Sometimes the answer is right before your eyes! Blue light blocking glasses can ease digital eye strain, decrease your risk of macular degeneration, reduce glare, and increase the clarity of your vision. Just be sure your blue light blocking glasses aren’t blocking beneficial blue-turquoise light.
Do Blue Light Glasses Work?
Eagle Eyes blue light blocking glasses help to protect and expand your vision by blocking and filtering harmful UV and scattered blue light emissions. All of our blue light glasses safeguard against the wavelengths most harmful to your retinas (415-455 nm) while allowing light from the beneficial blue-turquoise light range (465-495 nm). Explore our wide selection of styles with blue light blocking lenses, from Aviator sunglasses to night driving glasses to glasses specifically designed to reduce digital eye strain.