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Blue Light & Eye Health: Everything You Need to Know

On average, American adults experience about 10.5 hours of screen time a day via cell phones, tablets, televisions, and computer screens (both at home and in the office), and other devices.[1]  Thanks to many of our favorite tech gadgets, the daily amount of blue light exposure has skyrocket in recent years.

As our relationships to blue light-emitting tech and devices continue to develop, more and more people are looking to understand the relationship between blue light exposure and macular health.

Is all of this screen time literally affecting the way that our eyes, brains, and bodies experience the world?

A growing body of research has suggested that the answer to this question may be “yes.”

What is blue light and how can it affect the human body?

In case it’s been a few years since your last high school physics class – light (regardless of type) is made up of electromagnetic particles. These particles get around by traveling in waves and as they travel, they emit energy. As a rule, a shorter wavelength means more energy will be emitted.

Unlike like the longer kinds of light that are visible to the human eye that are generally recognized as “beneficial light” (think back to elementary school and the visible colors of the rainbow “ROYGBIV”), many of the varieties of light with shorter wavelengths aren’t visible to the human eye and are sometimes categorized as “harmful light.”[2]  

NSL Blog - Light Spectrum (Visible and Invisible)

Unfortunately, blue light – falls into this second category. Arguably, this places spending long periods of time starring at your phone’s screen in the same category as glancing up and getting too much direct sunlight [3] 

As people spend more time on their blue light-emitting devices, members of the scientific and medical communities have raised concerns about the possible long-term effects of this exposure on both adults and children.

In a recent study conducted by the Harvard Medical Center, researchers compared the effects of blue light exposure to those of other kinds of light on adults. The results showed that participants who were exposed to blue light were twice as likely to experience lower/suppressed melatonin levels and experience shifts in their circadian rhythms (two key components in how our body’s manage sleep). [4]  These two of many potential effects of prolonged blue light exposure.

As blue light enters the eye, it passes through the cornea and reaches the retina – one of the most sensitive and important parts of the eye – at which point it has the ability to cause strain, fatigue, and induce premature aging.[5]

Among long-term effects, two of the most common categories of eye strain that can be induced by blue light are:

  • Digital Eyestrain – Typically manifests as soreness, irritation, and difficulty focusing.
  • Retina Damage – Type of macular degeneration most commonly associated with age.

For more information on how prolonged exposure to blue light can negatively affect your eyes and sleep patterns, I highly suggest listening to Dr. Ward Bond's August 22, 2018 podcast with Dr. Michael Breus. On a personal note, I decided to implement an "electronic curfew" about a week ago and found it to be very helpful!

 

Top Sources of Blue Light

Common Sources of Blue Light: Cell phones, tablets, laptops, LED LightsIn today's modern, technology-filled world, avoiding the top sources of blue light can seem almost impossible. Not surprisingly, many of the top tech sources of blue light also happen to be some of our favorite gadgets including cellphones, laptop and table screens, desktop computer monitors, florescent lighting and LED lighting.[6] 

On the bright side, research suggests that certain lifestyle change may be able to help promote eye health and reduce overall blue light exposure.

Lifestyle Changes that Can Support Eye Health

One of the simplest and most effective means to reduce the effects of blue light, is the reduce overall exposure - which means spending less time in front of screens and digital devices. Unfortunately for many of us (especially those among who employed in a modern office equipped with computers), it can be difficult to cut back on screen time during the work day. 

Along with enlisting the help of things like specialty eye wear, more and more consumers are turning to a proactive and holistic approach to eye health that includes getting the proper nutrients.

Nutrition, Supplements Formulations & Eye Health

NSL Blog Bluelight Supporting Cellphone in Hand CloseupEven before concerns about blue light were making their way into consumer sight-lines,  eye health has been a popular category among nutritionally-minded consumers and supplement brands for decades. 

Supplement formulations featuring some of the most popular eye health ingredients can prove to be ideal for consumers looking to support and promote the health of their eyes despite the fact that they can't get away from their screens as much as they might like.

Some of the most popular and well researched eye health ingredients on the market today include:

  • Vitamins C, E, and A
  • Zinc
  • Omega 3s
  • Lutein
  • Zeaxanthin

As of May 2018, the National Eye Health Institute recognized that  Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) reported in 2001, these nutrients may be among the best for promoting eye health when paired with a well-balanced diet and additional supplementation.

The scope and significance of the AREDS findings as well as new studies and research on these nutrients and ingredients has earned them place among the most in-demand elements of supplement formulations designed to promote eye health.     


References 

[1] http://www.digitalcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/2017-Digital-Future-Report.pdf [2] http://www.bluelightexposed.com/#what-is-bue-light  [3] https://www.allaboutvision.com/nutrition/lutein.htm [4] https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side [5] https://www.preventblindness.org/blue-light-and-your-eyes [6] https://www.preventblindness.org/blue-light-and-your-eyes   [7] https://www.icliniq.com/articles/eye-health/computer-vision-syndrome-the-uprising-monster-of-eye [8] https://draxe.com/eye-vitamins/   [9] https://www.allaboutvision.com/nutrition/lutein.htm

 

June 20th, 2018

About the Author:

 
Melissa DellaBartolomea

Melissa DellaBartolomea was the resident Content Marketing Specialist at NutraScience Labs from February 2016 to July 2018. Driven by a passion for the world of written, visual, and digital media, she's dedicated herself to keeping up with all things nutraceutical. From ingredient insights to the latest in contract manufacturing regulations and trends, her mission is to provide our readers (like you) with the stories and knowledge they need to fuel long-term growth and nutraceutical industry success.