The Dark Side of Blue Light

There used to exist a time when humans relied on the sun as their primary source of light throughout the day. They would rise with the sun, carry out their work for the day, and then spend their nights in mostly darkness.

Living in the digital age has changed our lives, mostly for the better, but we’ve also welcomed in a new batch of health concerns. Most people can relate to the muscle fatigue and soreness associated with sitting at a computer too long. Similarly, a lot of people are all too familiar with the headaches and eye strain that come with staring at monitors for extended periods of time. We may be paying a price, a lot of which has to do with the light itself coming from those monitors.

What is Blue Light?

Most modern televisions, phones and computers emit high amounts of blue light. There are a number of health concerns associated with excessive exposure to blue light. Studies have found that blue light suppresses the secretion of melatonin (a sleep hormone) twice as long as green light and can alter circadian rhythms by twice as much. This really becomes an issue for people that stay up late on their computers or phones.

Blue light has short, high energy wavelengths that can also be damaging to your eyes. This may show up as eyestrain, headaches and general mental fatigue. Prolonged exposure may cause retinal damage and contribute to macular degeneration.

What Can You Do?

The obvious answer is avoid it as much as possible. There are a few products in the market such as orange tinted glasses and glasses designed specifically to block out blue light. There is also a free program for computers I recommend for patients that masks your display in a warm orange glow.

As with most things in life, it helps to lay out some rules for yourself regarding use of phones and computers. Set a “bedtime” for when you have to turn devices off. Doing so will allow your body to secrete proper levels of melatonin so you can actually fall asleep at a decent time.

Depending on your work situation, you may want to look into changing the lighting in your business. In our office, because we work with a lot of migraine patients, we’ve made very specific choices regarding the lighting. Every light bulb we use is at a very specific color temperature in an effort to reduce strain on the eyes and mental fatigue. 

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