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The Detrimental Effects of Blue Light from Led Devices on The Eyes

The advent of digital technology has, to a large extent, made life easier. Ponder over the first thing you do in the morning when you get of bed. You may want to catch up with friends and family on Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter, etc. Then you head straight to your computer at work and spend the majority of the day on it or using one of the many other digital devices that are available today. Our society has gone highly technological and the world over is crazy about it. While the benefit of digital technology can be life-changing, so can the hazards. Unfortunately, most adults are unaware of the potential dangers of blue light and the risks they pose to our general health particularly, our eyes.

 

Light plays a very powerful role in our lives. In fact, light is a biological requirement essential to health, and it also plays a big role in visual health. Light is made up of electromagnetic particles that travel in waves. These waves emit energy, and range in length and strength; the shorter the wavelength, the higher the energy. In addition, every wavelength is represented by a different color and is grouped into the following categories: gamma rays, x-rays, ultraviolet rays, visible light, infrared light, and radio waves. These wavelengths make up the electromagnetic spectrum.

 

However, the human eye is sensitive to only one part of this spectrum which is seen as colors: violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange and red. Blue light has a very short wavelength, and so produces a higher amount of energy. Clinical studies have suggested that, over time, exposure to the blue end of the light spectrum could cause serious long-term damage to the eyes. In its natural form, our body uses blue light from the sun to regulate our natural sleep and wake cycles. This is known as our circadian rhythm.  Natural Blue light also boosts alertness, heightens reaction times, elevate moods and increase the feeling of well-being.

 

In various homes and offices in Nigeria, attempts have been made to switch to new energy- saving bulbs to boost lighting. This is done without any knowledge by those involved of the emission of blue light from these devices. Computers and mobile devices are also culpable as regards this issue. Digital eyestrain has become a medical issue with serious symptoms that can affect learning and work productivity. The symptoms arising from digital eyestrain have been termed ‘COMPUTER VISION SYNDROME’ involving blurry vision, difficulty focusing, dry and irritated eyes, headaches, neck and back pain. Unfortunately, our eye’s natural filters do not have sufficient protection against blue light rays from the sun, let alone the blue light emanating from these devices or from blue light emitted from fluorescent light tubes.

 

So. how much of artificial Blue Light are we exposed to? It has been estimated that young adults spend more than 2 hours each day using a digital device, taking a significant toll on the eyes. There are also reports of symptoms of digital eye strain affecting people who spend at least nine hours each day on digital devices. Prolonged exposure to blue light may cause retinal damage leading to loss of vision. This important information is never taken seriously by Nigerians. They don’t feel obliged to use it because they are not having any current eye/vision problems.

 

In recent times however, increasing attention is being paid to blue light—how its cumulative effects can cause destruction of cells at the center of the retina and the implication is the development of an eye disease known as age-related macular degeneration. Chronic exposure can cause some general health problems. For example, prolonged exposure to blue light at night can lower the production of the hormone, melatonin that regulates sleep and disrupt our circadian rhythm. Research has also linked working at night shift and exposure to blue light to several types of cancer (breast, prostate), diabetes, heart disease, obesity and an increased risk for depression.

 

Who needs protection from blue light exposure? We all do. Everyone needs to take precautions against the effects of blue light. This can be achievable by taking simple steps to avoid prolonged exposure. One of the steps is to take a break from your devices. Take a 20-20-20 break! Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and look at something 20 feet away. Third, wear spectacle prescriptions with appropriate coating obtained from an Optometrist who has experience in managing this type of vision problem. If you are not able to limit your digital device use, at least cut back on it before bed. Studies have shown that exposure to blue light a couple of hours before bedtime suppresses melatonin and delays deep sleep significantly. Finally, keeping in mind a few simple ways to protect the eyes from the detrimental effects of blue light, we can take pleasure in knowing that our eyes will last much longer than our smartphones, tablets and computers.

Source: Dr Okoro Chiemela