Article from Essilor of America
Light is something we take for granted; it’s all around us – in our houses and offices, shining from our televisions and phones. Nobody stops to think about light, much less the effects different colors of light can have our bodies, moods, and overall health. Did you know blue light can make you feel better? It can also lead to insomnia, and overexposure can be dangerous to your eyes. Read on to learn how to get the benefits from blue light while keeping your body protected.
Blue Light Benefits
Without even thinking about it, your body uses blue light to regulate your biological clock, or sleep/wake cycle. Blue light also plays a role in basic functions of the human brain such as alertness, memory, emotion, and cognitive performance. In certain conditions, light therapy using wavelengths of blue light is known as an effective treatment helping people of all ages.
In fact, phototherapy in the form of blue light waves is a standard treatment used to reduce high levels of bilirubin in the blood of newborns. Due to frequencies that effectively destroy bacteria, some dermatologists use blue light therapy to treat skin conditions such as acne, rosacea, and psoriasis.
Blue light therapy is also used to help people who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression resulting from a lack of daylight in the winter. While it’s fairly common for people to experience minor mood changes without adequate sunlight, severe forms of SAD can result in debilitating fatigue, appetite changes, and mood disorders. Studies have shown that for some people, blue light therapy can be just as effective as antidepressant medications.
Blue Light Hazards
In its natural form, blue light from the sun helps our bodies determine day from night, and thus, when it’s time for sleep. At night, light has a tendency to throw off the body’s circadian rhythm, or biological clock; and, with the widespread increase of digital devices and LEDs in our lives, blue light is having more and more of an impact on our ability to sleep.
You’ve probably heard this before, but getting enough sleep every night is very important to your overall health. While we sleep, our bodies restore mental and physical energy and rebuild muscle tissue. Here’s something you might not know – light suppresses the secretion of melatonin, the hormone that tells your brain it’s time for bed. So beware that staring at your television, computer, tablet, or phone right before you go to bed is having a negative impact on your good night’s rest.
Research has also shown that a specific band of blue light can be harmful to our eyes. High-energy blue-violet light at the end of the visible light spectrum, near ultra-violet (UV) light, has been found to cause significant damage to retinal cells and is a risk factor for the onset of age-related macular degeneration , a deterioration of the part of the retina responsible for sharp, central vision.
How to Get the Most from Blue Light and Stay Protected
A simple way to protect your body and eyes from the dangers of blue light is to limit your exposure. Rather than watching television or checking your email in bed at night, try a warm bath or reading a book to relax before your slumber.
For times you need to be in front of a computer, check out the apps and computer hacks available to help reduce blue light exposure. Also, aim to keep blue light at a distance – blue light sources should not be near eye level for extended periods of time. You can also talk to your eye doctor about eyeglass lenses that help protect eyes from harmful blue light.