Many of us know about UVA and UVB rays and the importance of wearing sunglasses to protect our eyes from them. Because so many of us spend time outside every day (even if we’re just driving), we want to do everything we can to prevent damage to our eyes. Similarly, there is another type of light that most of us come in contact with every day, potentially even more so than UVA or UVB rays: blue light.
Blue light is a type of light within the visible light spectrum, and it’s what allows us to see the color blue. Blue light is everywhere. Outdoors, natural sunlight is the main source of blue light. Indoors, there are many sources of man-made blue light, such as fluorescent and LED bulbs, flat screen TVs, computer screens, and smart phone screens.
Some degree of exposure to blue light is essential for good health. Research has shown that blue light boosts alertness, elevates mood, and helps cognitive function. Blue light is even used to treat patients with seasonal affective disorder (SAD). In addition, blue light is very important in regulating circadian rhythm – the body’s natural wakefulness and sleep cycle.
As our world becomes increasingly digital, it is important to know about the effects that blue light, specifically man-made blue light, can have on you. As we mentioned before, blue light helps regulate our circadian rhythm; it signals to our brain that we should be awake. During the day, this is great. But in the evening, artificial blue light will make your brain think it’s still time to be awake, rather than naturally realizing it’s time to sleep. This is why you’ll hear suggestions to avoid screen time 1-2 hours before you’re going to bed. Avoiding the blue light is helping your brain and body work together to prepare for you a good night’s sleep.
On the other hand, too much blue light at night can disrupt the circadian rhythm, resulting in decreased melatonin, difficulty falling and staying asleep, decreased REM sleep, feeling more tired in the morning, and daytime fatigue. Furthermore, excessive blue light can lead to migraines, blurry vision, dry eyes, inability to focus, and more.
Living in a Blue Light World
Avoiding blue light is like trying to avoid the sun—it’s impossible! Blue light is natural, so don’t look at it like a monster we need to avoid at all costs. When it comes to blue light, it’s more important to try to limit exposure at night. Start by putting your phone away a half hour before bed, then slowly increase the time over a few weeks. Instead, read a book, call a friend, take a bath, or play a game. Additionally, get a pair of glasses designed to block blue light. These can be great to wear if you have a desk job or can’t avoid being on your computer at night. As you limit your blue light exposure, your body will thank you.
If you have any questions about blue light or anything else eye-related, the doctors at Broberg Eye Care are here for you. Contact us today!