What are the effects of blue light and how do you control them?
Our mobile phones, laptops, and other devices that we use every day are crucial for executing several tasks. This means that, for most of our days, we are glued to looking at our devices with little respite. Think of the last time you consciously put down your phone or looked away from your laptop. If you can recall it, that’s great. It’s even better if you can recall doing it very recently.
The pandemic brought on a shift to virtual learning and work-from-anywhere culture, which meant millions of people spent over 10-12 hours staring at some device for study or work purposes every day. This has, as indicated by several studies conducted during that period, affected the vision of the general population, particularly that of school-going children and the working population.
A major concern in all these studies was the long-term impact these high levels of screen time and continued exposure to blue light have on a person’s eyesight. The findings weren’t pretty but also weren’t all that conclusive. Many researchers claimed that while it led to some issues, there wasn’t enough scientific evidence to say that blue light surely damaged people’s eyes.
But first, what is blue light?
Blue light is light with the shortest wavelength and highest energy in the visible light spectrum.
But here’s the thing- we don’t get exposed to blue light just from our digital devices. A majority of our blue light exposure comes from sunlight. Other sources include LED lights, fluorescent lights, compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), and LED television screens. But sunlight is the single largest source of blue light that we, unfortunately, cannot fully protect ourselves from.
Despite this, there are a few benefits of blue light if you are exposed to it in moderation.
How is it good?
Blue light is highest during the day and is shown to improve one’s level of alertness and awareness. This provides a boost of energy to get things done and greatly improves cognitive function and memory, ultimately elevating mood.
Blue light is also used as part of light therapy to treat or supplement treatment for mental health issues such as depression. This is also why many doctors and mental health experts recommend some time out under the sun.
Sunlight is also crucial for development in children. Not only does it make them feel more active and energetic, but it also helps in the development of vision. It also reduces the risk of developing eye problems in adolescence and adulthood.
Most importantly, blue light plays a very important role in regulating our wake and sleep cycle, also called the circadian rhythm. It helps wake us up and stimulates us to be active, helping us stay alert during the day to complete our tasks.
It is, especially for the lattermost reason, that it poses some negative effects on our bodies.
Why is blue light harmful?
Besides natural light, we are exposed to blue light in higher amounts than ever, thanks to our constant need to remain connected via digital devices.
Late-night exposure hampers your ability to fall asleep. Our body is capable of detecting differences in the light tone, which means that when we detect warmer light, our bodies release melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep. Extended periods of exposure to blue light only mess with this release of the hormone, causing delays in or disruption of sleep.
Apart from this, prolonged blue light exposure also leads to eye strain and dryness. Because we are staring at something on our screens, we are blinking less than ever. This means that we are drying our eyes out because one of the purposes of blinking is to lubricate our eyes.
How do you reduce the negative effects of blue light?
Invest in warm white light bulbs
Investing in good quality warm white lights is a great way to reduce exposure to blue light. All of Ankur Lighting’s lights have multiple bulb tone options that allow you to choose between warm and cooler tones according to your needs. This warm white suspended panel light should do the trick.
If you have fancy cool white lights around your house that you just cannot do away with, you can also invest in recessed lights that can come on only during the evenings.
The 20-20-20 method
A good way to offset the effect of blue light and prevent eye strain is to adopt the 20-20-20 method, where you focus on an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes.
Avoid looking at screens at least an hour before bed
A good practice to inculcate into your daily routine is to keep your phone aside at least an hour or two before bed so you can avoid blue-light exposure right before sleeping. This provides your eyes with some rest and even gives you time to engage in other activities that don’t strain your eyes.
Use blue-light filters on your devices
This is especially beneficial if you work on your laptops or phones during the late evening and night hours. These filters (like Night Light in iPhones) reduce the amount of blue light emitted from the screen and instead display warmer tones that reduce eye strain and help us fall asleep at night.
Invest in special blue light-blocking computer glasses
This is especially helpful if you work with devices and need to look at LED screens for several hours every day. While these glasses are made to block most of the harmful blue light emitted from the screen, there just isn’t enough evidence to support the claim that they reduce eye strain.
Switch to red or warm yellow lights inside your room a couple of hours before sleeping.
These have the same effect as blue-light filters. They do not interfere with your natural circadian rhythm and instead allow your body to release melatonin.
Use sunglasses while stepping out
Since we have established that most blue light exposure occurs due to the sun, wear sunglasses whenever you walk out to avoid UV ray damage to your eyes. This is one of the best ways you can reduce the adverse effects of natural blue light from the biggest source of the same.