An important source of blue light is LED screens, including the screens on your computer, mobile phone, tablet, and television. On average, Singaporeans spend over twelve hours a day looking at these screens. Even our toddlers aren’t safe - an NUS study found that almost one in two Singaporean children under two years old are exposed to LED screen devices, a third of them having over two hours a day of screen time.
And how many of us work under fluorescent or LED lights, another source of blue light. If you’re thinking of heading outdoors to escape the glaring screens and lights, think again, because sunlight is the biggest source of blue light, emitting over 100x the intensity of LED screens.
The damaging effects of blue light
Our eyes are especially sensitive to blue light, as the human cornea and lens cannot block or reflect it. Prolonged exposure to blue light may result in:
- Tired and strained eyes;
- Macular degeneration, an irreversible condition, which could lead to vision loss;
- Disrupted sleep-wake cycle, due to the suppression of melatonin, the hormone that brings on sleep.
There are also suggestions that there may be a connection between blue light and diabetes, obesity and cancer. However, the jury is still out on these ones.
Protecting yourself from the harmful effects of blue light
Unless you live in a cave without any electronic devices and tv, you will be exposed to the damaging effects of blue light. The good news is, there are relatively simple things you can do to protect yourself, and preserve your eye health.
1. Blue light blocking glasses
These protect your eyes from the harmful blue-violet light emitted from LED screens on your phone, tablet, laptop and TV. You can also get screen filters to place over your monitor, which filter out blue light. Eye protection is important, especially if your job/studies requires prolonged screen time. Be sure to rest your peepers every hour or so, to help reduce eye strain, and keep them in good health.
2.Swap your LED and fluorescent lights to yellow lights
Changing your lighting to warmer colours is easier on your eyes, and reduces your exposure to blue light. This gives your eyes some time to rest and reset for the next working day.
3.Have a device free zone one hour before sleep
This helps your brain unwind and relax from your busy day, before heading to bed. Yes, this would mean no more playing mobile games or watching your favourite Netflix series to get to sleep. Staying off your devices lets the sleep hormone, melatonin, kick in for better quality sleep and proper rest.
4.Supplement with Lutein and Zeaxanthin
Lutein and Zeaxanthin are carotenoids, (give yellow, orange and red vegetables their colour), that help block blue light from reaching the sensitive area of the retina. These carotenoids may also help prevent macular degeneration. In addition they can help boost your visual performance by helping with glare tolerance, recovery after exposure to UV light, and colour differentiation.
Not all blue light is bad
Yes, blue light should not be totally banned from your life. The harmful effects of blue light is caused by blue-violet light. In small amounts, blue-turquoise light, present in sunlight, is actually beneficial, and:
Helps regulate your body’s biological clock;
Boosts cognitive function, memory, mood and alertness
It is believed that insufficient exposure to this beneficial form of blue light may increase the chances of nearsightedness in children.
Interestingly, blue light is used for therapeutic purposes, such as, treatment of certain skin conditions, and mood disorders, eg. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Now that you know a little more about blue light, and how to protect yourself from it’s potentially harmful effects, you can start making changes, to reduce your exposure to it. Your eyes and future self will thank you for it!
BioMed-Chemist, Formulator, Fitness Freak & Full-time free spirit
Dedicated to helping people find their best self through nutrition and positive vibes.