Computer screens blue light may cause eye damage
I recently got this newsletter from my eye doctor's office. It talks about the dangers of blue light from fluorescent lights, computer screens, tablets, and so on. It makes we want to go back to film photography instead of digital so I don't have to work with LCD's.
Here is a link: http://www.macular.org/bluelite.html
and the newseltter: http://www.eyecontactmadison.com/newsletter
"BLUE LIGHT HAZARDS
Blue light is everywhere. It exists in the very fiber of our culture. How can you protect yourself? We learn at a young age about the visible light spectrum, you know, the rainbow? Well, each color, or wavelength, of the light spectrum has a unique effect on us, beyond the color you painted your bedroom in high school. Researchers have shown that light influences our hormone secretion, heart rate, alertness, obesity, sleep propensity, body temperature, disease and gene expression. That pretty much covers everything a person ought to be concerned about health wise. Clearly light, and most specifically blue wavelengths of light, impact our quality of life in so many ways.
Circadian rhythm is a natural biological process that for most humans repeats every 24 hours, give or take an hour. It’s regulated by communication between the hypothalamus (a part of your brain) and the optic nerve. Before the industrial revolution, the human circadian rhythm was dependent on the sun, the moon and the four seasons. We maximized our sun exposure when we rose early, worked outside and went to bed when it became dark. The invention of fluorescent lighting, TV, desk and laptop computers, iPads, handheld phones, and video games have recently and dramatically changed this pattern. We are increasingly exposed to blue light in a way that has had a significant effect on our natural rhythms. Blue light is now ingrained in our society during all hours of the day. Research by NASA has shown that the presence of blue light in the “dark” portion of the human circadian rhythm is disruptive to the human sleep cycle. Blue light has also been shown to drastically reduce the production of Melatonin, the brains natural sleep-aid. NASA researchers have created a simulated sleep/wake schedule for their astronauts by altering the wavelengths of light in the shuttle in accordance with natural circadian rhythm. This promotes sleep, thereby wellness for their orbiting astronauts. Numerous studies show increasing correlation between sleep disruption and disease. According to Harvard sleep researcher Stephen Lockley “Light at night is part of the reason so many people don't get enough sleep, and researchers have linked short sleep to increased risk for depression, as well as diabetes and cardiovascular problems.” Another recent Harvard study suggests a strong correlation between blue light, obesity and type 2 diabetes. The study, which put a panel of people on a shifting circadian rhythm cycle by altering their exposure to blue light wavelengths, showed a spike in blood sugar levels and an increase in the hormone leptin (a hormone that regulates hunger and satiety) after exposure to blue light during “dark” hours. Coincidence? We think not.
Our eyes are our light filters. The very images we see are light reflections. It is widely understood that certain light wavelengths can cause harm to our skin and eyes when left unprotected. Hence sunscreen and UV protected sunglasses. What about the blue light that is emitted from your iMac or Android phone? Or the fluorescent lighting in your office or home? How do you protect your self from that? Countless studies are legitimizing the correlation between overexposure to blue light and retinal damage. One of the leading modifiable environmental risk factors associated with Age-related Macular Degeneration is prolonged, unprotected exposure to blue light. In fact, there is mounting medical evidence that prolonged exposure to blue light may permanently damage the eyes, contribute to cataracts and to the destruction of the macula. In an era dominated by office environments and gadgets emitting blue light, what can be done to protect and preserve your health and vision from its hazardous effects?
A simple change for your health
I am not going to sit on a soap box and talk about how we all should limit our gaming, TV or internet addictions as I am aware it would be like trying to scream underwater. These things have quickly, for better AND for worse, become the fabric of our culture. I am certainly not going to give up my iPhone or computer anytime soon, and I know no one else on the planet will either. Lens manufacturers are now focusing on making blue blocking lenses. These lenses can be made with your prescription and will help to protect your eyes from the harmful effects of your blue light gadgetry. The lenses have a yellow tint which could take some getting used to, but the benefits do outweigh the interesting fashion statement. Aside from blue-blocking lenses, here are some small steps that can be taken to help reduce your exposure to blue light and protect your eyes. Supplementing Lutein, Zeaxanthin and Meso-Zeaxanthin, the light filtering carotenoids present in the macula will increase the density of your macular pigment thereby increasing protection from the inside of the eye. Keep low ambient, non fluorescent lighting in your bedroom. It is important to maintain the integrity of your circadian rhythm. Maybe even spend at least an hour before bed without looking at your phone, computer screen, etc. Okay, I know that last one may be a stretch but, think of it as my personal challenge to you. Who knows? It may be the ticket to a healthier happier, more well rested you!"