One important fact is often left out of the blue light conversation: The sun is by far our most abundant source of blue light, however, too much light at the wrong time can be harmful. An overabundance of blue light from ever-present computers and mobile phones can cause daytime fatigue, headaches and upset our natural rhythms.
Blue light is a colour in the visible light spectrum that can be seen by human eyes. Blue light is a short wavelength, which means it produces higher amounts of energy. It can help to boost alertness, memory, raise mood, improve attention span and reaction times, however, too much -- especially at night -- could harm your health.
What Effect Does Blue Light Have On Eyes?
It’s safe to say most of us spend a lot of time staring at screens (like now!) that can be bad for our eyes. Blue light from electronics is linked to problems like blurry vision, eyestrain, dry eye, macular degeneration and cataracts. Here’s what you need to know.
Increasing evidence suggests that blue light has a dark side, as large amounts of high-energy light from the sun -- like ultraviolet rays and blue light -- can boost your risk of eye disease. That’s raised concerns about whether blue light from digital screens is harmful.
Recent studies have shown that extended exposure to blue light can damage the retina. Almost all blue light passes straight through to the back of your retina. When blue light hits a molecule called retinal, it triggers a cascade of chemical reactions that could be toxic to cells in the retina of the eye.
Experts think digital eyestrain, or computer vision syndrome, affects about 50% of computer users. Symptoms include dry, irritated eyes and blurred vision. The amount of blue light damage depends on wavelength and exposure time. Studies show even short exposure (a few minutes to several hours) may be harmful. A filter that cuts 94% of blue light has been shown to lessen damage.
What Effect Does Blue Light Have On Skin?
Research on how blue light affects your skin is ongoing, but what dermatologists know so far doesn't look great. When it comes to skin aging, UV rays are a known top contributor – but research is mounting against blue light. This form of visible light also known as high-energy visible (HEV) light.
There's evidence that as blue light penetrates the skin, reactive oxygen species are generated, which leads to DNA damage, thereby causing inflammation and the breakdown of healthy collagen and elastin, as well as hyperpigmentation.
How To Protect Your Skin From Blue Light
Wear a physical (aka mineral) sunscreen that contains Zinc Oxide, like Invisible Physical Defense SPF30. This ingredient helps protect skin against blue light. It also helps protect skin against UV rays – which pose a greater known threat. Sunlight and electronic devices reach skin both indoors and out, so it's important to protect your skin even if you're indoors most of the day. Supplementing your skin care regimen with antioxidants like Matcha Green Tea or a Matcha face mask may also help. Such antioxidants counter free radical damage that occurs from UV and visible light.
But Isn’t Blue Light Used To Treat Acne?
Yes, blue light lamps treat acne and precancerous lesions. It damages the skin, but on the other hand it can treat acne, It can help your mood and memory as well. So it’s more complicated than just saying ‘good’ or ‘bad’.
As of now, there's no commonly understood threshold for when time spent in front of a screen starts to show on your skin. (It's unknown, for example, whether a forty-hour workweek will lead to melasma faster than 20 hours of Netflix).
That's not all. Dark spots after acne are often worse on the side of the face where the person is holding their mobile phone. It seems that, in these cases, the phone being right on top of the skin surface is giving high levels of blue light to the skin. A computer screen, meanwhile, might not be so worrisome, because you sit farther away from it, if not, you are using it wrong!
The bottom line? The blue light effect on skin needs more research before we can draw any solid conclusions, though early evidence seems to suggest it has the potential to be damaging.
What Effect Does Blue Light Have On Sleep?
At night, it can suppress the secretion of melatonin and wreak havoc on circadian rhythms. Using tablets, some e-readers, smart phones and laptops in the hours before bedtime can negatively impact overall health, alertness, and the circadian clock, which synchronizes the daily rhythm of sleep to external environmental cues.
Fluorescent and LEDs bulbs create a two-fold problem when it comes to sleep. First, they produce artificial light. Second, they produce blue light. Blue light wavelengths produced by electronics and overhead lights boost attention, reaction times and mood. This can be great for the daytime when the body needs to be alert, but at night it can become a problem.
How To Prevent Blue Light Damage...
Rest Your Eyes
The simplest intervention is to limit the amount of blue light emitted from your devices. Apple products offer a “night shift” setting that creates a warmer screen tone.
Swap out your standard LED bulbs for versions that emit less blue light.
To prevent sleeping problems, avoid any exposure to blue light 30 to 60 minutes prior to bed. That means, no TV, tablets, computers or smart phones. Ideally, you want your environment to be dimly lit so your body can start naturally producing melatonin.
A good cheat for this is any tinted sunscreen. A mineral sunscreen would block the blue light and stop its bacteria-killing action. Mineral sunscreens with iron oxides are the gold standard in blue light protection. Iron oxides have been shown to be more protective against visible light than zinc oxide and titanium dioxide alone.
As far as antioxidants go, vitamin C and E are good choices because the molecules are actually small enough to penetrate the skin, and the two ingredients boost each other’s potential to fight free radicals.