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The following article was published in Your Health Magazine. Our mission is to empower people to live healthier.
Dawn Devaney Gammon, OD, FAAO
Blue Light Exposed
The Eyewear Gallery
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Blue Light Exposed

Visible light is much more complex than you might think. Most people are aware that sunlight contains invisible ultraviolet (UV) rays that can burn the skin. But what many don't realize is that visible light, also emitted by the sun, comprises a range of different-colored light rays that contain various amounts of energy.

Let's Talk About Light

What exactly is blue light and where does it come from? Without getting into complicated physics, there is an inverse relationship between the wavelength of light rays and the amount of energy they contain. Blue light is the short-wavelength, visible section of the light spectrum, which reaches deeper into your eye than its well-known cousin, UV light. Natural blue light can come from the sun, while artificial blue light comes from digital screens, fluorescent bulbs, LEDs and televisions.

We experience natural blue light everyday and it is considered good for us. It helps to regulate our sleep patterns, increases alertness and cognitive function, and can even boost our mood.

But most of us spend the majority of our waking hours staring at digital screens, whether it's the computer at work, our personal cell phone, playing a video game, or just watching TV.Digital eyestrain is a new term used to describe the conditions resulting from the use of today's popular electronic gadgets and can affect learning and work productivity.Symptoms include blurry vision, difficulty focusing, dry and irritated eyes, headaches, neck and back pain. Digital eyestrain has overtaken carpal-tunnel syndrome as the number one computer-related complaint.

Too much blue light can also disrupt our sleep pattern and may contribute to age-related macular degeneration and permanent visual damage. Harvard researchers have also linked working the night shift and exposure to blue light at night to several types of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, obesity and depression.

Who needs protection?

We all do. Everyone needs to take precautions against the effects of blue light, whether we work in an office or play in the sun. Blue light is good for us in moderation, but the biggest culprit of too much exposure is our electronics. Blue light reduction programs and protective shields can be installed on your digital devices. Take frequent breaks and avoid using in dark rooms. Give yourself and your kids at least an hour of screen-free time before bed.

One of the best and most effective ways to protect your eyes is to wear glasses with a blue-light filter coating prescribed from your eye doctor, so talk about your screen usage and any symptoms of eyestrain at your next eye wellness examination.

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