Blue Light: Dr. Kathleen Moore Tells Us About This Seen and Unseen Vision Hazard
The eye care industry has spent millions of dollars on educating the public about the dangers of UV light exposure and as consumers, we are all much more aware and sensitive about the issue. Recent research is now telling us that the same care and caution much be taken with “blue light”.
Blue light is a very wide light band, from 380 nm to 500 nm. This is the highest energy visible light and we are bombarded with this wave length all day, every day. Our eyes are exposed to blue light daily. The greatest dose of blue light comes directly from sunlight. Unlike UV radiation, however, blue light is also emitted in indoor light environments including electronic devices.
Traditionally, our incandescent lamps (warm and yellow lighting) contain less than 5% of blue light. New lighting technologies, such as LEDs, however, may emit higher proportions of blue light than warm and yellow lighting with higher brightness. Although the amount of blue light emitted by LED lighting is moderate, the luminance (brightness or intensity) may be much higher than traditional incandescent lighting on the retina.
“Blue light goes deeper than UV rays into the eye,” reported Dr. Kathleen Moore of Centreville Eye Care Center. “Specifically, while most UV rays are filtered out by the cornea and crystalline lens, blue light actually reaches our retina and that’s a potential problem.” Blue-light has been scientifically shown as harmful to the retina. Cumulative blue light exposure creates photochemical chain reactions in our eyes, which produce oxidative stress (decay) and may progressively and irreversibly alter the retina.
This stress has been shown to be compensated by retinal antioxidants, but environmental factors (such as tobacco consumption or a poor diet) and age reduce anti-oxidative defenses, thus failing to compensate for the oxidative stress.
“We now know that there is a direct link between blue light exposure and Macular Degeneration, which is one of the leading causes of blindness,” stated Dr. Moore. Patients who visit our Centreville Eye Care Center undergo a series of tests to ensure they are not experiencing the early stages of AMD.
Our eyes’ daily exposure to artificial lighting and LEDs is increasing as they are used in mobile phone and tablet back-lighting and even children’s toy lighting due to their small size, long lifespan and low energy consumption. The blue light exposure rate is accelerating at increasingly rates in our environment and children are extremely sensitive to blue light retinal exposure.
Blue light at its lowest energies (the blue-turquoise range) is necessary to reset our biological clock and synchronize our biological rhythm. Blue-turquoise light triggers our eyes to transmit a nerve signal that helps us to regulate sleep/wake state, pupil light reflex, cognitive performance, mood, locomotor activity, memory and body temperature.
New lenses are now available that filter out UV radiation and significantly decrease harmful blue light while allowing beneficial blue-turquoise light to pass through. Our eyes are exposed to blue light all day and our retinas are sensitive to this constant, life-time exposure. Take steps now to protect your eyes and the eyes of your children.