What is Blue Light Exposure And How Can It Hurt Your Eyes?
“Blue light.” It’s become a bit of a buzzword lately, as blue-light blocking glasses are trending and more people are growing concerned about the effects of computer screens on their eyes, brains, sleep, and even skin. But what is blue light, and what’s the fuss about? Read on to find out why people are concerned about this type of light and what you can do to help counter its adverse effects over time.
Blue light—the basics
Remember learning about the light spectrum with prisms in school? Or how a rainbow is made from refracted light? All those colors make up the light we see every day, which is called “white light.” The colors with the longer wavelengths (like reds) have less energy, while the colors with the shorter wavelengths (like blues) have more energy.
Blue light is at the end of the visible spectrum (before you get to invisible ultraviolet light). It’s known as high-energy visible (HEV) light. And here’s a fun fact: about a third of all visible light is considered blue light. Sunlight is the main source—in fact, it is these very HEV light rays that make the sky appear blue.
Some blue light is actually good for you—it’s essential for your health and in the proper dosage can trigger alertness, help you concentrate, and boost your mood (ever heard of light therapy for people with seasonal affective disorder?). The problem comes when we pile on a multitude of manmade blue lights: LED, computer screens, phone and tablet screens, flat television screens, and fluorescent lights.
In today’s world where so much of our work, errands, social lives and entertainment options are online, many of us spend quite a bit of time on our screens. According to a 2018 report, the average adult in the U.S. looks at screens for ten and a half hours a day! (1)
That amount of blue light can negatively impact your circadian rhythm, making it difficult for you to sleep at night. It’s generally recognized that too much screen time can have a negative effect on your overall wellbeing, but all that blue light you’re exposed to could also be bad news for your eyes.
How blue light is harmful to the eyes
With UV rays (those invisible ultraviolet rays from the sun), your eyes’ built-in defenses are pretty effective. The cornea and lens block all but 1% of UV light, and with 100% UV-blocking sunglasses, it’s easy to protect your eyes to avoid potential UV damage. But the eyes aren’t as good at shielding Blu-rays. Short-wave blue light can penetrate through the eye’s cornea and lens to the retina, causing conditions like dry eye as well as blinding disorders like cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. (2)
Macular degeneration, in turn, leads to permanent vision loss. The American Optometric Association reports that most people who are diagnosed with macular degeneration become legally blind within 10 years. (3)
Long exposure to digital blue light can cause visual fatigue, inability to concentrate, and nearsightedness. (2) Because of its short wavelength, blue light scatters more than other lights, which means that it’s not as focused and in turn makes it harder for your eyes to focus with all the “visible noise” when you’re looking at a computer screen. This may contribute to digital eye strain—or the eye discomfort, headaches, and vision problems that can result from prolonged screen usage.
What you can do about it
Blue light glasses are all the rage right now as more people experience fatigue and headaches at the end of a long day of staring at screens, or maybe find it more difficult to get adequate sleep at night after absorbing so much blue light.
However, more testing still needs to be done on the efficacity of blue light glasses. While some people report feeling better at the end of the workday or after watching a movie with blue light glasses, as of yet, there is no conclusive data that they protect your eyes. But if you can find a pair from a brand you trust or have the function added to your prescription glasses, there’s no reason not to try them out.
We recommend doing more than that, though, using science-backed ingredients in a daily supplement to build up vision support in your eyes. The latest studies report that certain antioxidants are effective in fighting the effects of blue light exposure. In particular, the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin have been shown to help reduce damage from blue light exposure (4, 5, 6).
Lucid Vision supplements are designed to support eye health and vision while counteracting the negative effects of blue light from digital devices. They include the most important vision components of the formula used in the Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2), the widely followed National Eye Institute study (5, 7). These include Lutein, Zeaxanthin, Zinc, Copper and Vitamin C. Here’s how those ingredients help protect your eyes from blue light exposure and other types of damage:
Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids, or pigments found in plants that give them a warm hue (think carrots—they really are good for your eyes!). These carotenoids accumulate in the back, “macula” region of your retina and absorb blue light, helping to protect your eyes from damage.
Zinc is an essential “helper molecule” that plays a vital role in bringing vitamin A from the liver to the retina, thereby producing melanin, a protective pigment, in the eyes.
Copper builds strong tissue that supports eye structure, while alpha-lipoic acid helps boost levels of glutathione, which helps protect important enzymes in the cortical lens. Studies show that alpha-lipoic acid can assist with cataract health and shield your eyes from oxidative damage.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin and a powerful antioxidant that helps the body form and maintain connective tissue, including collagen, which is found in the cornea of the eye.
Lucid Vision also features a proprietary Eye Antioxidant Super Fruit Blend, with free radical-fighting superfruits bilberry, black currant, blueberry, and goji berry.
Try taking Lucid Vision supplements twice a day (or two once a day) with a meal to take charge over your eye health and protect your vision during all that screen time. (Lucid Wellness even has a 365-day money back guarantee if you aren’t satisfied that the supplements are working for you!)
And remember, blue light exposure is just one part of digital eye strain. A general rule of thumb for helping with digital eye strain is to look away from your screen every 20 minutes at something at least 20 feet away, for 20 seconds (also known as the 20-20-20 rule). Don’t forget to blink, and use eye drops if you experience irritation or dryness. Always use your prescription glasses, wear UV sunglasses when you’re outside on sunny days, and see your ophthalmologist for checkups and concerns.