The Detrimental Health Effects of Blue Light
Every time we look at a screen, turn on an LED, or even open our refrigerator, we are being flooded with artificial blue light. Our bodies are unable to tell the difference between artificial and natural light and our circadian mechanism is easily disrupted when exposed to this fake light. It responds accordingly by initiating processes associated with daytime, including melatonin suppression and cortisol up-regulation. This translates to insomnia, carb cravings, overeating, anxiety and more.
Every being on earth runs on a circadian clock, which uses the light environment to tell time and stimulate biologic functions. At one time, exposure to light came only from the sun and circadian alignment was a natural part of life. But when exposed to blue light, become more alert and are constantly stimulating a cortisol effect in our brain. This then influences our hormones, sleep and even gut health.
Natural blue light from the sun is a powerful agent for circadian entrainment and interacts directly with a photoreceptor located in the eye and skin called melanopsin. The presence of blue from the sun’s morning spectrum stimulates the release of hormones like cortisol and serotonin that contribute to feelings of wakefulness. The absence of blue in the later part of the day stimulates the secretion of melatonin, a powerful hormone responsible for regulating sleep and repair processes.
Most of us get far too much blue light during the day from our devices as well as from the light bulbs in our homes (kitchen, bathrooms, living rooms, tvs), grocery stores and in our offices. Artificial light sources do not resemble the sun’s frequency at all.
On top of that, it turns out that the human eye is not great at blocking blue light, meaning nearly all of the blue light we’re exposed to reaches the retina. Research has shown that over time, blue light can damage retinal cells, leading to macular degeneration and also potentially contributing to cataracts.
In addition, blue light’s high energy wavelength has been shown to alter mitochondrial function, resulting in increased production of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS), decreased production of energy, DNA damage, and apoptosis (cell death). This is particularly important as it relates to the retina, which contains the highest volume of mitochondria due to its substantial energetic demands. While the sun contains blue light naturally, it is always balanced by low energy, longer wavelength red light, which has been demonstrated to increase cellular energy production and decrease the burden of ROS.
In the short term, it places a strain on our eyes that ends up affecting not only our vision, but our entire bodies through headaches, shoulder and neck tension, and an inability to concentrate. Even worse, getting blue light before bed (which most people are) has been shown to disrupt the body’s circadian rhythm, leading to poor sleep. And a lack of quality sleep has cascading effects on practically every part of your body, including your digestive system, cardiovascular system, and even your brain itself. In fact, there’s a growing consensus that blue light is essentially a pollutant that can contribute to chronic disease.
In a nutshell, blue light disrupts the way your body has evolved to function—and that has serious side effects. Fortunately, there is a simple way to cut down on the amount of blue light making its way to your retina.
Blue light-blocking glasses, or blue blockers, are glasses designed to filter down or completely eliminate the harmful blue light. These glasses can be recognized by their distinctive yellow or red tints. These glasses, when worn throughout the day and before bed, reduce the amount of blue light your eyes encounter throughout the day and help you reduce the harmful effects of fake blue light.
If you want to cut back on the blue light you’re exposed to every day, start by checking out my favorite blue light-blocking glasses from Lucia Eyes and this link offers 20% off.
Why Lucia Eyes?
Many of the less expensive options available through other retailers block very little of the blue spectrum (if any at all) and their products typically don’t stand up to testing. Stay way from Amazon. Unfortunately, glasses from Amazon simply do not block enough of the blue to make a difference. Although it may cost more to buy a quality pair, your health is an investment and it is certainly worth it. Not to mention, if you purchase a sturdy pair and take care of them, they will last a long time.
Lucia Eyes differs in blue light blocking capability.
Their lenses continually stand up to spectral testing and they are made with the tint, directly in them, instead of a top coating. This means that even if the glasses get scratched, they do not lose their effectiveness. Additionally, the frames are made from quality materials and designed to last. If you’re looking to invest in your long-term health, a quality pair of blue blockers is a worthwhile investment, I absolutely love mine!
A daytime pair of blue blockers will have a yellow tint and likely filter anywhere from 45-60% of the blue light spectrum or block 100% of a specific portion. Allowing some blue promotes wakefulness and more closely aligns with the sun’s spectral composition during the day. These should be worn until sunset (or a little before) and then exchanged for your nighttime pair of blue blockers.
A nighttime pair of blue blockers will be entirely red and should block 100% of the blue light spectrum. These mimic the complete absence of blue and the presence of red, which is the natural spectral composition of sunset. Although using your nighttime blue blockers will promote the processes associated with sleep and repair, it is typically best to avoid technology/artificial light altogether at night as other considerations like flicker could still be detrimental to sleep quality.
Don’t Wear Them Outside!
There is no replacement for nature and you should never cover your eyes or skin when spending time outside. In fact, sunlight through the eye is critical to optimal health, which means wearing your blue blockers could quickly go from being a healthy practice into one that is actually detrimental. Take off your blue light glasses when outdoors and take in all the sun you can get!