By: Dr. Amber Teten – Optometrist Chesapeake VA
In today’s digital era, where artificial light permeates our lives more than ever, Dr. Teten, Optometrist Chesapeake VA, has taken on the responsibility of enlightening her patients about the implications of this light on their vision. Our exposure to artificial light encompasses the blue light emitted by everyday devices like smartphones, laptops, and televisions. While these technological advancements have undoubtedly enhanced our convenience, they have also raised valid concerns regarding our well-being, specifically our eye health. Throughout this discussion, we will explore the physics of the visible light spectrum, the intricate dance between our sleep cycles and artificial light, and the significant impact of blue light on our eyes. These concerns regarding artificial light exposure reinforce the necessity of regular visits to Navigation Eye Care and Dr. Teten, Optometrist Chesapeake VA, ensuring that your eyes receive the care they deserve.
The Physics of the Visible Light Spectrum
Light encompasses a range of colors, each possessing its own unique wavelength and energy. When combined, these colors give rise to the visible light spectrum, known as ROY-G-BIV (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet). However, it’s crucial to recognize that the visible light spectrum is just a fraction of the broader electromagnetic spectrum, which also encompasses ultrviolet (UV) and infrared light.
Among the various colors, blue light stands out due to its short wavelength and high energy levels. These properties enable it to penetrate deep into our eyes, posing a potential risk. The retina, a light-sensitive portion of the eye, is particularly vulnerable to the effects of blue light. The retina consists of intricate layers and minute photoreceptors that detect light signals. Think of them as tiny picture pixels that transmit these signals through the optic nerve to the brain, where they are processed into visual images. It’s essential to seek guidance from an experienced Optometrist Chesapeake VA, like Dr. Teten, to understand the implications of blue light and safeguard the health of your eyes.
Our Sleep Cycles Must Battle Artificial Light
Our circadian rhythm, also known as our sleep cycle, is influenced daily by light exposure. The blue light emitted from our devices can interfere with our sleep cycle by suppressing melatonin production. What is melatonin? Melatonin is the hormone responsible for regulating our sleep. This interruption of the body’s melatonin can lead to disrupted sleep patterns, making it more difficult for us to fall asleep and stay asleep. Depending on age, our bodies and brains need a healthy 8-10 hours or more to refuel our bodies and let our brains rest and process what happens and what we learn during the day. This is especially important for children as they learn so much daily and must sleep enough to grow, learn and stay healthy.
The Impact of Blue Light on Eye Health
Exposure to blue light can have a significant impact on our eye health. Blue light has been linked to digital eye strain, characterized by symptoms such as dry eyes, headaches, eye fatigue, and eye focusing (or accommodation) dysfunctions. Why does this occur? As earlier said, blue light has a higher energy and a shorter wavelength than other colors in the visible light spectrum. This makes it capable of penetrating deep into the retina, causing damage to the cells in the eye, specifically the retina. The retina-specific spot, the macula, is responsible for our clearest, most detailed vision.
The macula can become damaged and deteriorate as we age, a condition called Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD). Long-term exposure to blue light has been linked to an increased risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD occurs when the photoreceptor cells in the macula, the part of the retina responsible for sharp central vision, degenerate. AMD is a leading cause of vision loss in older adults. Vision loss is associated with a decreased lifestyle of independence and often requires vision aides to assist in daily activities.
Have you heard of cataracts? Blue light has been linked to the earlier onset of cataracts. Cataracts are an eye health condition where the eye’s lens becomes cloudy, with varying opacity or blocking of the light coming from outside and then going into the eye. Often cataracts cause glare in the daytime in the sun, while raining, and during the evening with headlights. In extreme cases, significant cataracts can lead to decreased vision and even vision loss. The high-energy blue light can cause oxidative stress to our natural eye lens, leading to the formation of cataracts at an early age.
How to Protect Your Eye Health from Blue Light
You can take several steps to protect your eye health from blue light exposure. These include:
- Reduce Screen Time and be knowledgeable about your daily exposure to blue light.
- Reduce the time you spend looking at screens, especially before bedtime.
- Dr. Teten, Optometrist Chesapeake VA highly recommends having outside light exposure, even on a cloudy day, of 60-90 minutes daily.
- Try to limit your exposure to digital screens before bed. Try to turn those screens off 1-2 hours before your bedtime. Spend time reading a book or chatting with your family about the day.
- It is highly recommended that young children have less than 30 minutes of digital screen exposure daily.
- Use Blue Light Filters on devices where available.
- Consider using a blue light filter on your devices to reduce your exposure to blue light. Some devices have built-in blue light filters, or you can download a blue light filtering app.
- Wear Blue Light Blocking Glasses for both kids and adults.
- Blue light-blocking glasses have lenses specifically designed to reduce exposure to blue light. They can be beneficial if you spend a lot of time looking at screens.
- GlamBaby is one of our favorite children’s blue light protection glasses for children at Navigation Eye Care.
- At Navigation Eye Care, we offer quality coatings to protect your prescription lenses from the penetration of blue light. Ask us about them next time you stop by.
- We offer the newest technology in contact lenses with built-in blue light protection. Until recently, blue light protection in contact lenses was utterly unheard of; now, that is a thing of the past.
- Wear glasses or contact lenses that reduce digital eye strain. We offer both Eyezen prescription lenses for children and adults. And we also offer premium contact lenses proven to reduce the effects of digital eye strain during your work or study day.
- Practice Good Lighting Habits
- Ensure the lighting in your home and workspace is appropriate for the task.
- Use dimmer switches to control the brightness of your lights, and do not work on a digital device or watch television in the dark. Avoid fluorescent lights, as this also causes increased glare and light sensitivity.
If you’re experiencing any concerns regarding blue light exposure and require assistance in managing and reducing your exposure, don’t hesitate to reach out to the dedicated team at Navigation Eye Care. You can contact us at 757-529-6889 or conveniently schedule an appointment. Dr. Teten, Optometrist Chesapeake VA, is well-equipped to address your needs and provide comprehensive care for you and your entire family. When searching for exceptional service delivered with a friendly approach, we invite you to explore the services offered by Navigation Eye Care. As a leading Optometrist Chesapeake VA, we wholeheartedly recommend choosing us when seeking a top-notch eye doctor in the Chesapeake area. We are committed to serving the community for many years to come and eagerly anticipate the opportunity to care for you and your loved ones.