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Healthy Living

The Blue Light Dilemma: Is It Truly Dangerous & What Should I Do?



If you’ve ever looked at the Sun for a fraction too long and were blinded by spots, you understand how light can hurt your eyes. Worries about health issues related to Blue Light emitted from electronic devices, such as cell phones, computer screens, TV’s, and LEDs (light-emitting diode), have been buzzing in recent years. There are two camps of thought: 1) It’s all bogus. 2) We’re all going to go blind. So, what are you to believe? And if the danger exists, what can you do about it?

What is Blue Light?

Visible light

The Sun’s light looks white to us, but as every child knows, it’s composed of the colors of the rainbow. The electromagnetic spectrum includes visible and invisible light waves.
Within the visible spectrum, red wavelengths are the longest at 650-700 nanometers. Blue, the shortest – more intense – wavelengths, sits between 400-470nm. The High-Energy Blue Light (HEBL) that we’re concerned about falls between 415-455nm.

The Eyes Lenses & Cataracts

Eye anatomy

Cataracts are one of the leading causes of blindness worldwide. The Lens is located just behind your Iris and focuses light on the Retina. It absorbs short wave light through yellow pigments in the Lens’s protein to protect the Retina. Studies show that long-term exposure, this process gradually accumulates clumps of protein or yellow-brown pigment. It darkens, losing transparency, and blocking out light. This eventually becomes a Cataract. So, yup, the rumors have merit, and over time, HEBL can lead to Cataracts.

HEBL also skyrockets free radical formation and oxidative stress. Free radicals are unstable molecules missing electrons, so they steal them from cell walls, proteins, mRNA, DNA, and more, further damaging your eyes. Incredibly, one animal study showed that Retinal tissue nuclei scatter, and photoreceptors become mildly disordered in just 24 hours. This damage triggers inflammatory responses that create more harmful free radicals in a vicious cycle.

The Retina & Blindness

The Retina converts all images into neural information. The Retina is a thin tissue located inside the back of your eye near the optic nerve. It converts the light received from your Lens into neural signals then sends them down the optic nerve to your brain for visual recognition. When Retinal tissue is injured, vision loss occurs, and if severe, it could lead to blindness. Retinal damage is the cause of several blinding diseases.

Blue light can cause photochemical damage to the Retina. Although researchers are still in the thralls of debate, The International Journal of Ophthalmology clearly shows studies of HEBL activating the same pathway that leads to Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD). This disease causes blindness in older folks. Some studies show it can accelerate AMD occurrence at any time after Cataract surgery. Another complication is that HEBL’s inflammation could impair the delicate blood vessels that support the eye, essentially starving away your vision.

HEBL not only damages the Retina but the area just in front, which can cause visual fatigue and nearsightedness. It can cause double vision and the inability to concentrate. HEBL damages the tear film's support and stability, damaging the Cornea over time, leaving you with dry, itchy, irritated eyes. If this damage continues, it could lead to a Corneal transplant.

Sleep & Circadian Rhythm

Sleep has become a real health concern in recent times. One of the main reasons is our obsession with our electronic devices. HEBL blocks Melatonin, the sleep hormone while exciting your brain and blocking sleep. Sleep loss can become even more dangerous to your health than HEBL. During sleep is when your body heals, repairs, regenerates, detoxes, and burns fat. Chronic sleep loss can lead to inflammation and disease.

Blue Light Glasses

Well, the controversy continues with camps on both sides. The thing is that we don’t have enough data to understand the seriousness and long-term implications of HEBL. Scientifically, it makes sense that any assistance to filter out the HEBL can only help your eyes’ Lenses and Corneas in the long run.

And it could help with better sleep. A 2017 study by the University of Houston showed that Blue Light Glasses increased nighttime Melatonin levels by about 58% and sleep duration by 24 minutes.

How to Protect Your Eyes & Vision

  1. Zeaxanthin and Lutein are the only carotenoid antioxidants found in the Lens and can absorb Blue Light. They protect your Lens’s proteins, lipids, and DNA from oxidative damage. You’ll find a rich source of these antioxidants in dark-green veggies, such as kale, spinach, and broccoli. Egg yolks, peppers, and grapes are also good sources, or you can take a high-quality supplement to make sure you’re getting enough.
  2. Antioxidant eye drops could help soothe the dryness and discomfort and fight free radicals too. These include Zeaxanthin and Lutein, but could also contain N-acetyl-carnosine, L-carnosine, L-glutathione, cysteine ascorbate and L-cysteine.
  3. The best advice is to turn off your screens 2-3 hours before sleep to ensure you’re not disrupting your circadian rhythm.
  4. Set up your computer and other screens to permanently filter out Blue Light. Investing in Blue Light Glasses to help filter HEBL, which are not expensive in general, and like the old chicken soup remedy, it couldn’t hurt.
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