“We used to go to bed early.”
Until only a few decades ago, we got much fewer reasons to stay up after the sun went down. Before the invention of phones, laptops, and televisions, an average person will have his normal and natural light exposure from the sun during the day, then let his night slowly rest.
Now, modern humans conquered the darkness; We have lightened up our nights with LED bulbs and extended life beyond sunset through technology-enabled night-shifts and night-life.
These screens, the “sun” s of our evenings, evolved way faster than our biological bodies, which are suffering to adapt to this change. One major struggle that was observed recently is the harmful impact of the blue lights on our health.
While our biological bodies cannot adapt to the new lifestyle impacts, new humans ought to find ways to overcome the harmful outcomes.
In this article, we shed light on blue light, its origin, and definition. We learn what science says about its danger and how we can naturally, or by the help of technological gadgets, protect ourselves from the harmful impacts of blue light.
What is blue light, and where it comes from?
Blue light is a major part of the electromagnetic spectrum that our eyes sense as visible light. It differs from other lights as it has a very short wavelength, hence a stronger eye penetration and a higher energy intensity .
The primary source of blue light is the sun. Therefore, it is very natural and healthy light. When we are exposed to blue light coming from the sun during the day, it enhances our alertness and mood, regulating our circadian rhythm – the natural wake and sleep cycle .
when did it go wrong then?
Our history with digital screens is not that old. We recently started to recognize the extensive daily exposure of an average person to light from screens and LED lights, which emit an intensive amount of blue lights.
Scientific investigations started to study a potential link between intensive and prolonged exposure to digital blue lights and several diseases like insomnia, depression, and even aging and eye deterioration.
Real dangers of blue light | A scientific summary
It is a valid question to ask why blue light coming from the sun is good, but when it comes digitally, which is ten times less intense, everyone starts to panic!
While many debatable studies -without enough evidence- have suggested exaggerated potential dangers of blue light, yet some reliable studies do show four main established dangers from blue lights.
- Sleep deprivation from blue light exposure
Melatonin is known as the hormone of darkness. It is secreted at night, and it has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anticoagulopathic properties . Most importantly, the rise in melatonin secretion increases sleep propensity about 2 hours before the person’s regular bedtime .
Results from a study- included participants exposed to more extended times of reading electronic light-emitting e-readers – showed that the evening exposure to blue lights delayed the circadian clock, suppressed melatonin secretion, and resulted in lower sleep quality .
- Health risks from a sleep disorder
Adapting to a lifestyle with a continuous night exposure to blue lights leads to a state of long term insufficient sleep quality. A study links an extended sleep disorder to a high risk of hypertension, diabetes, depression, heart attack, and stroke .
- Blue light hazards on eye’s retina
Blue light has a high energy nature that allows it to pass through the cornea and lens to the eye’s retina. The retina’s intensive exposure to that light might cause diseases such as dry eye, cataract, and age-related macular degeneration . The excessive blue light exposure can affect retinal mitochondria and trigger mitochondria-involved death signaling pathways, resulting in irreversible cell death .
- Blue light and aging-related diseases
Short-wavelength radiation and blue light have been associated with photochemical damage and apoptotic cell death (programmed cell suicide) seen as common causes of aging visual loss .
How to avoid blue light naturally with good habits
One way of preventing blue light harmful effects is restoring part of our departed natural lifestyle. While restraining from using electronics, LED lights, and avoiding all kinds of digital screens after sundown would be the ultimate solution. That is yet not a practical or sustainable solution. Some practices can, however, help to compensate for the blue light effect.
- Get enough sun in the morning. This shall balance your circadian clock and regulate proper melatonin secretion.
- Avoid digital screens at least 2 hours before sleeping. This shall give your body a chance to start secreting melatonin and lets your circadian clock run normally.
- If you have to be exposed to a blue light screen, try to:
- Reduce glare by cleaning the screen and dimming other surrounding lights
- Set far enough from the screen to control the intensity of light
- Every 20 minutes, take at least 20 seconds to break from the screen looking somewhere natural and far.
- Increase text size to comfort your eyes and avoid eyes restraining.
Blue light gadgets and products
When studies started to link ultraviolet light exposure to skin cancer, we never really stopped going to beaches on sunny destinations. Well, we, as humans, found a workaround, like we also do. Sunglasses and sun creams became summer essentials, and we kept living on and enjoying our sunbathes all the same.
Blue lights can also follow the same example. The electronics and pharmaceutical industries have come up with gadgets that can prevent the harmful effects of blue lights from their origin.
1. LED bulbs with blue light blocking
LED lights can induce dangerous blue light exposure at night, especially for those working night shifts. It is scientifically advised to use LEDs with an emission peak of around 470-480 mm and not below 450 mm to avoid risk development of ocular pathologies, at least on short to medium-terms .
Some producers have introduced bulb lines claimed to be 99.94% free of blue spectrum light, thus encouraging the production of melatonin in the evening and reducing eye strain.
2. Blue light glasses
These glasses offer the most convenient protection against blue lights when using laptops, phones, or watching television at night.
Products like these from wearpro have low color distortion lenses that can reduce glare, provide blue light protection, and maintain good vision quality.
3. Screen Protector
Screen protectors offer a highly practical solution for blue light hazard. They block a significant amount of blue light with emission peaks between 420nm – 460nm by 45% to 90%. These protectors usually offer multiple-layered protections against UV dangers and shocks.
Some data provided in a study suggest that exposure to blue light can also damage the skin. Although these studies are still in the early stages, pharmaceutical companies already started introducing products that may preserve skin quality from the dangers of blue lights .
5. Integrated Solutions
In many cases, when buying a new TV, laptop, or phone, you might already have an integrated solution for blue light. Producers are already aware of that market need. In many new smart products with screens, you can find a “night mode” or a “blue light blocking mode” that you can switch on from your display settings without the need of
Suppose your device doesn’t have an integrated solution for blue light protection. You may visit your app store to find ready-made apps that you can use to adjust the light filters, choose a dimming limit, and customize it to your daily schedule.