What is all this talk about “blue light”? You may have heard a lot of buzz recently about this term, but what is the growing concern all about? At Offen Eye Associates blue light has very quickly become a hot topic as we strive to educate our patients on what blue light is and the potential danger it poses for our vision. Natural sunlight is comprised of visible light rays and invisible ultraviolet light rays. We perceive “white light” due to the spectrum of red, orange, yellow, green, and blue colored light rays. These visible rays consist of varying degrees of wavelengths and energy. 1/3 of this visible light consists of the shorter wavelength blue light, also known as high-energy visible light.
Where Does Blue Light Come From?
Blue light can be found everywhere and, in fact, is essential for good health. It has been proven to increase mood, alertness, memory, and cognitive function. Though sunlight is the main source, there are many man-made indoor sources as well. These include fluorescent lighting, LED lighting, flat screen televisions, smartphones, computers, and iPads to name a few. These man-made sources emit a significantly lower amount of blue light than the sun. However, there is a growing concern among optometrists regarding its potential detrimental long-term effects due to a drastic increase in time spent on and around these sources as well as their proximity to our face/eyes.
What are the Potential Dangers of Blue Light?
Virtually all blue light passes through the cornea and lens of the eye to reach the retina (the inner lining of the back of the eye). Compare this to ultraviolet light where damage can occur to the anterior structures of the eye, but less than 1% actually reaches the light-sensitive cells of the retina. Our eye doctors in Westfield, New Jersey are alarmed by the potential long-term effects of blue light exposure to the eyes. We are experiencing an increased risk of macular degeneration, premature aging of the eyes, and ultimately permanent vision loss.
The Effects of Digital Eye Strain
Our optometrists are deeply troubled by the amount of time both children and adults are spending on digital devices during the day and well into the night. We frequently see patients from Westfield and the surrounding communities of Cranford, Mountainside, Clark, Garwood, and Scotch Plains with complaints of eyestrain following a day of work and school spent sitting in front of computers, Ipads, Smart Boards, and smartphones. Why is this happening? Blue light scatters more easily than other wavelengths of light making it much more difficult for the eye to obtain a sharp focus on the retina. This results in poor contrast and an increase in both eyestrain and fatigue. Additionally blue light aids in regulating our circadian rhythm. The downside to this is that too much exposure to blue light at night will result in sleepless nights and daytime fatigue. We emphasize limiting screen time at night to all of our patients.
Dr. Alboher & Dr. Kress believe it is of the utmost importance that patients of all ages start protecting their eyes from the dangers of blue light exposure. Our Westfield optometrists and opticians would be more than happy to educate you on different blue light filters available for use with digital devices. We utilize computer glasses with special blue light blockers built in designed for optimal viewing at your personal working distance. These glasses are available with or without a spectacle prescription and can be prescribed for wear over contact lenses. We also have special anti-reflective coatings available to block blue light from both natural and man-made sources. It’s time to talk to your eye care professional about your options. Please call our office at (908) 789-1177 to schedule an appointment to protect your family’s eyes from the detrimental effects of blue light exposure.