Constantly looking at digital devices may have unforeseen consequences for your health
Blue light is everywhere. And it could be responsible for causing accelerated blindness and eye disease.
Blue light is everywhere. It’s emitted by computers, televisions and smartphones.
It’s also the cause, in some cases, for accelerated blindness and eye disease, according to a new study. Constantly looking at digital devices kills cells in the eye’s retina, and can lead to macular degeneration, an incurable eye disease that usually begins when people are in their 50s or 60s, arecent University of Toledo study found.
Blue light can cause a “poisonous” chemical reaction in the eye’s photoreceptor cells and, when those cells die, they’re gone forever. The good news: There’s a way to prevent the cells from dying.
Ajith Karunarathne, assistant professor in the department of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Toledo, found one type of molecule — called the antioxidant alpha tocopherol, which is derived from Vitamin E — can stop the poisonous reaction.
As people get older, it’s harder to fight eye disease. Karunarathne said he hopes this research leads to the invention of preventative measures, such as eye drops to protect the retina...................READ MORE
RetinaGuard Anti Blue Light Tempered Glass Screen Protectors :
Blue light’s rap sheet is growing ever longer. Researchers have connected the high-energy visible light, which emanates from both the sun and your cell phone (and just about every other digital device in our hands and on our bedside tables), to disruptions in the body’s circadian rhythms. And physicians have drawn attention to the relationship between our favourite devices and eye problems, ranging from everyday eye strain to glaucoma to macular degeneration.
Humans can see a thin spectrum of light, ranging from red to violet. Shorter wavelengths appear blue, while the longer ones appear red. What appears as white light, whether it's from sunlight or screen time, actually includes almost every colour in the spectrum. In a recent paper published in the journalScientific Reports,researchers at the University of Toledo have begun to parse the process by which close or prolonged exposure to the 445-nanometer shortwave called "blue light" can trigger damage irreversible damage in eye cells. The results could have profound consequences for consumer technology.
“Photoreceptors are like the vehicle. Retinal is the gas,” says study author and chemistry professor Ajith Karunarathne. In the lab, when cells from the eye were exposed to blue light directly—in theory, mimicking what happens when we stare at our phone or computer screens—the high-intensity waves trigger a chemical reaction in the retinal molecules in the eye. The blue light causes the retinal to oxidize, creating “toxic chemical species,” according to Karunarathne. The retinal, energized by this particular band of light,killsthe photoreceptor cells, which do not grow back once they are damaged. If retinal is the gas, Karunarathne says, then blue light is a dangerous spark.....
All you need to know about blue light and simple tips to protect your wellbeing
You’ve heard of “blue light” right? That light that keeps you up at night? But do you actually know what it is and its effect on your mind? It is a question that I get asked often, so allow me to shed some light on the topic (no pun intended)!
In order for us to get out and about to live our lives, Mother Nature had to find a mechanism to boost our alertness, elevate our mood, increase our reaction times and increase our feeling of wellbeing, so she gave us the blue light from the sun. Now then, what is blue light?
The light that travels from the sun comes in waves and 7 different colours (the visible part of the spectrum): violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange and red. We see these colours, or any combination thereof, every time we look at an object. Every object, when exposed to light, either absorbs or reflects that light. Ever wonder why tomatoes are red and bananas are yellow? Each of these fruits have properties that absorb and reflect light to varying degrees, resulting in our experience of a multi-coloured universe. You can also see these colours when you look at a rainbow, since the water drops act like a prism to separate light into its different wavelengths.
Speaking of wavelengths, every colour radiated by the sun has a specific wavelength which varies in range, length and energy emission. Blue light has one of the shortest, higher-energy wavelengths, which explains why our minds are so susceptible to this part of the light spectrum. Our bodies are designed to use this energy-rich, blue light from the sun to stimulate our brains and regulate our circadian rhythms (our natural sleep and wake cycles).
Extended exposure to blue light however, can be seriously detrimental to our health. According to Harvard researchers, the harmful effects of prolonged exposure include disruption of our sleep-wake cycle, eyestrain syndromes, greater risk of diabetes, heart disease, obesity, depression and even certain types of cancer (breast and prostate primarily). One of the reasons why Mother Nature created the night-day cycle, was to shield us from continued exposure to blue light.
For hundreds of thousands of years, our biology has been operating in harmony with the rhythms of nature. Every time the sun sets, our bodies secret melatonin, a hormone which among other things, induces natural sleep. Ever since the introduction of artificial light in the late 1800’s, that cue provided by the sun has virtually gone. To make matters worse, the introduction of digital light sources (rich in blue light), has compounded the problem.
The really concerning fact is that light emanating from our digital devices has a much higher concentration of blue light than natural light because it is “short-wavelength-enriched”. The main artificial sources of this blue light include fluorescent and LED lighting, electronic devices, TVs, laptops, tablets, smartphones, and fluorescent lighting.
As you can imagine, bathing our eyes in blue light during the course of the evening as we work on our computers, watch television or engage in social media, extends our exposure to these enriched high-energy waves. Blue light reaching our retina is interpreted by our minds as ‘it’s time for action’! Melatonin secretion comes to a halt and both adrenaline and cortisol (the stress hormones) begin permeating our bloodstream to enable our mind-body system to remain active and in high-alert mode. Remember, all this happens at a time in the evening in which we should be actually giving our mind-body system the restoration it needs to optimise our performance the following day.
Had Elton John known this, he would have not had to guess “why they call it the blues”!
So, if you really want to be at the top of your game and achieve your ideal performance state and safeguard your health in the process, please consider the following recommendations:
Read a Print Book.-Backlight screens in tablets and some e-readers are essentially throwing light directly out into your eyes, so opt for a print book for your night-time reading. If you already own a digital version of your favourite book, buy a cheap used hard copy version to read in the evening.
Go Screen Free.- Try going screen free 2 hours before bedtime- it’s a game changer. Avoiding exposure to digital devices will help provide the right environmental cues to your body to start winding down and facilitate the process of obtaining restful sleep.
Play a musical instrument.-If you have been wanting to learn how to play a musical instrument, this is your chance! Most music teachers will tell you that practicing little and often is a sure-fire way to master an instrument, so why not spend 30 to 45 minutes in the evening fulfilling that long-held desire.
Consider blue-blocking technology.-If your technology dependence is off the charts or if you work a night shift, consider apps that filter the blue wavelength or wear blue-blocking glasses.
Use dim red lights for night lights. Red light has the least power to shift circadian rhythm making it the preferred type of evening lighting since it does not suppress melatonin secretion. You might trigger memories of a past visit to that cabaret a while back, but your mind-body system will thank you for it!
Blue light is generated from the sun and artificially from computer screens, smartphones, tablets, televisions, and energy efficient lighting.
Blue light is more damaging to our eyes than Ultraviolet light, and Blue light also affects our vision, and our physiological health.
According to the American Optometric Association(AOA), children are more at risk from damaging sunlight because the lens on their eyes allows unfiltered light to reach the retina at the back of the eye.
How does Blue Light effect me?
Blue light is a cause gradual oxidation in the eye and over the course of a lifetime may result in macular degeneration.
Most of us acquire over 70% of light vision damage before 20 years of age because the lens of the eye has no protection, and both Ultraviolet light and Blue Light pass unfiltered through the lens.
CONSEQUENCES OF BLUE LIGHT EXPOSURE:
Direct consequences on the eye
SHORT TERM unfiltered Blue Light exposure produces the short term phenomenon of “veiled glare” which results in vision irritation (dry, burning, itchy eyes, fatigue and headaches).
MEDIUM TERM Blue light associated strain on the eye may contribute to either presbyopia or myopia.
LONG TERMBlue Light impact on the eye may include damage to the retina (specifically retinal pigment epithelium cells), and progressive degeneration of the macula, which is the leading cause of visual impairment (e.g. Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD). This type of vision loss affects color perception, the ability to read, write, drive and other cognitive functions. In a fully affected form, this type of degeneration can lead to blindness. Age Related Macular Degeneration is a worldwide epidemic affecting an estimated 30 to 50 million people; this is equal to the number of people affected by Alzheimer’s disease and all cancers combined. AMD is misunderstood as a disease of the elderly, when in fact middle-aged individuals are at risk: For example, a 50-year-old American woman is four times more likely to be diagnosed with AMD than breast cancer before she reaches the age of 55.
Indirect consequences on Physiology
While naturally occurring Blue Light has been overlooked, of greater concern is the rise in the artificial sources of Blue Light.
The Harvard University Science Journallinks Blue Light to broader health issues. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone in humans and is directly involved in regulating the circadian rhythm of the brain.
With Blue Light exposure from artificial light sources, the pineal gland produces less Melatonin and the normal sleep cycle is affected. Ineffective sleep is linked to workplace safety, learning and memory problems, and an overall increase in mortality.
The impact on circadian rhythm can result in a multitude of health concerns including attention and depression issues, cardiovascular performance (may lead to cardiometabolic consequences such as Type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, organ function impact) and has been associated with an increased cancer risk and impaired immune system function.
It’s 2017. We all get in a lot of screen time. Maybe you’re a gaming warrior, battling the fiercest, most cunning creatures technology can create, or you’re a student or a professional who has to use your computer all the time. Or perhaps you’re just addicted to all things streaming...Netflix, Twitch, YouTube videos, or just keeping up with Reddit.
In any case, if you are looking at a computer screen or the screen of any other electronic device for any length of time, you are being exposed to blue light. This exposure is probably negatively affecting you in ways you didn’t even know existed, not only by disrupting your sleep, but by decreasing your productivity and potentially doing serious long term damage to your eyes and overall health.
A LITTLE LESSON IN PHYSICS
Light, as you may already know, is composed of electromagnetic particles that move in waves. These waves not only vary in their length and strength, they also emit energy, with the shorter waves emitting more energy than the longer ones.
Blue light has an extremely short wavelength of between 380 nm to 500 nm, with one ‘nm’ being a nanometer or a billionth of a meter. Although exposure to blue light has a dark side, it also has some benefits. When you are outside, you are naturally exposed to a lot of blue light. As sunlight comes through the atmosphere, the short blue light waves collide with the air molecules in the atmosphere causing them to scatter. This scattering of blue light is what makes the sky appear blue.
Your body actually uses these shorter blue wavelengths to regulate your circadian rhythm, which are your natural cycles of sleep and wakefulness. Exposure to blue light during the day from natural sources helps to keep you alert, boosts your mood, elevates your sense of well being and increases your reaction time.
But exposure to large amounts of blue light, especially the light coming from artificial sources, can overload your system and have negative effects. If you are like most people, you spend the largest part of your waking hours staring into your computer screen or other electronic device. And that’s not even counting the hours most people put in when they are not working! Not only is your computer screen exposing you to blue light, but blue light is also coming from your smartphone and electronic tablets, as well as your television and fluorescent and LED lighting.
THE DARK SIDE OF BLUE LIGHT
Ok, so now that you know you’re being exposed to too much blue light, let’s take a look at what all that exposure can actually do to you. Too much blue light has been implicated in the development of disrupted sleep, digital eyestrain, macular degeneration (damage to the cells in the center of your retina), an increased risk of depression, an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and obesity and a greater risk of certain cancers.
So why is it that blue light can elevate your mood, keep you alert and increase your sense of well being one minute and at the same time disrupt your sleep and increase your risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes?
Researchers are not exactly sure why exposure to blue light, especially at night, seems to have such long term negative effects on human health. But these effects seem to be tied in with the nighttime production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates your sleep as well as your circadian rhythm.
BLUE LIGHT INSOMNIA
All that staring into your computer and other devices lowers your melatonin production at night and wreaks havoc with your sleep. But get this: once your sleep pattern gets out of whack, this can cause your body’s natural internal clock to shift. When this happens, you are not only going to have problems sleeping, the sensitive internal clocks that oversee the vital functions in many other of your bodily organs get disrupted as well.
Adequate, good quality sleep is absolutely essential for good health. Not only can poor sleep lead to a greater risk for cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity, it can put your sex life into a downward spiral, make you more sensitive to pain, increase your risk of injury due to accidents, cause fuzzy thinking, impaired memory and sabotage your immune system.
FIVE CURES FOR THE BLUES
We are obviously not going to suddenly quit using your computer and all your other electronic devices, so what should we do? How can we sleep better, especially if we already have blue light insomnia?
1. GET SOME SUN
Get out in the sun during the day as much as you can. Research has shown that even five minutes of sun exposure on your face during the day can have significant positive effects on your mood. You will be more alert and getting out in the bright light during the day will help you sleep better at night.
2. BLOCK OUT THE BLUE
If you work at night or if you use a lot of electronic devices at night, consider getting a pair of glasses that block blue light or install an app on all your devices that is designed to filter out blue light. LPT: Most phones have a ‘night time’ option that turns blue light off on your screen.
3. TURN YOUR BEDROOM INTO A NO PHONE ZONE
Do not use your phone as an alarm clock, and do not charge your phone in your room. Find a new place for your phone to live at night like your kitchen or living room. It will deter you from scrolling through posts late into the night as well as first thing in the morning.
4. THEN TURN YOUR BEDROOM INTO A RED LIGHT DISTRICT
Red light has the least ability to negatively influence your circadian rhythm and depress your melatonin levels. If you must use a light at night, either by your bedside or as a nightlight, get one that has a red bulb.
5. REBOOT YOUR BRAIN
Consider trying Reboot, our sleep aid designed to combat blue light insomnia. Modern compounds are combined with lesser known roots and herbs to assist your body and brain to fall asleep more efficiently and recover more effectively after long bouts of screen time. You can check out the full ingredients and why we use them here.