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The Health Risks of Blue Light Exposure

One of the biggest threats to the health of modern people is chronic lifestyle diseases like cancer and diabetes. These conditions have been brought by the drastic shift to sedentary lives that are made possible by the technological revolution. You don’t have to go hunting to find a meal like the early man did; you can get your food delivered right at your doorstep with a simple swipe of the finger.

The ongoing global pandemic has taken the sedentary lifestyle on an entirely new level. You can work, study, shop, and even attend concerts virtually! Unfortunately, all these changes come at a cost; they raise your risk of developing numerous health complications. Digital devices emit harmful blue light that can cause irreparable damage to your physical and cognitive health.

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Defining Blue Light

All visible light sources have blue light in them, whether artificial or natural. The visible light that appears ‘white’ is actually a cumulative effect of several colours of light rays namely red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. They appear in this order on the electromagnetic spectrum between the 380nm and 740nm range and blue light is found between 380nm and 470nm. It has the shortest wavelength and highest energy and that is why it’s referred to as a High-Energy Visible (HEV) light.

The natural source of blue light is the sun and its artificial sources are flat-screen TVs, LED fluorescent bulbs, smartphones, tablets, laptops, and monitors. Blue light technology became popular because it saves energy so all modern gadgets are designed to use it.

While blue light from the sun is good for you, the light from artificial devices is harmful. This is because you constantly use your gadgets all day long; worse still, you use them at night very close to your eyes. All this blue light disrupts your body’s normal functioning and causes illnesses.

The Negative Impacts of Blue Light on Your Health

Blue light affects your eyes, sleep, brain, skin, and overall health. Below are some of the ways blue light affects your health:

Blue Light’s Effects on Your Eyes

Due to its high energy content, blue light can damage your eyes when you perpetually stare at screens. The effects can range from digital eye strain to permanent loss of vision. Here are the eye conditions that result from excess exposure to blue light:

Digital Eye Strain

It’s also known as computer vision syndrome (CVS) and is mainly characterized by eye fatigue. Other symptoms that indicate you have digital eye strain are teary, sore, dry, or red eyes, headaches, blurred vision, neck, and shoulder aches. Apart from blue light, CVS also occurs because of staring at a computer without blinking and straining to see due to the glare from displays.

Macular degeneration

The cells of the retina may break down as you get older. This is a condition that is commonly referred to as macular degeneration. Notwithstanding, the condition may develop when you’re still young because of too much blue light. The retina is very sensitive to blue light and if it gets it from both the sun and digital devices all the time, it may start breaking down. Consequently, you get blurry vision and if it’s not treated early enough, it may degenerate to blindness.

Blue Light’s Effect on Sleep

Blue light from the sun is in charge of regulating your circadian rhythm or your sleep-wake cycle. The absence of blue light triggers the release of melatonin from the brain which induces sleep. Conversely, the presence of blue light sends a signal to the brain to stop the production of melatonin and that’s what wakes you up.

When you use digital devices at night, your body gets confused because it’s naturally not supposed to receive blue light in such hours. It, therefore, suppresses the production of melatonin causing your brain to remain on high alert so you won’t feel sleepy. Even when you try and sleep, you don’t fall asleep quickly because your body takes time to wind down after blue light exposure. This is what eventually develops into insomnia.

Blue Light’s Effect on Other Conditions

The health of your body is heavily dependent on whether you get quality sleep or not. When you make a habit of staying up at night working, studying, or entertaining yourself on digital screens, you won’t get enough sleep. This results in your body developing conditions like diabetes, depression, cardiovascular diseases, and obesity.

More alarmingly, blue light exposure has been linked with cancer. A study by the Barcelona Institute of Global Health found a link between exposure to blue light at night and developing prostate and breast cancer. They came to the conclusion that people who have been exposed to high amounts of blue light at night have a higher chance of developing these cancers than those who were exposed to less.

What Can You Do About It?

If you’re concerned about the dangers of blue light and are wondering how you can mitigate these effects, then you’re in luck. Here are some of the most effective solutions:

Blue Light Apps

All modern devices now come with built-in blue light filtering software. Among the most popular include Night Shift, Night Light, and Night Mode. When turned on, they give your screen an orange tinge. Some blue light apps can be purchased separately such as F.lux if you’re not happy with your device’s default app. However, these blue light apps distort the images and reduce the quality of your display.

Screen Protectors

These are physical blue light filters that can be placed on the screen of your smartphone, tablet, and computer. They are made of special material that filters out blue light entirely or partially. They also, depending on the brand, act as protectors against mechanical damage to your screens, anti-glare filters, and privacy screens.

Blue Light Glasses

They are also known as computer glasses and you put them on as you use your digital devices to prevent blue light from getting to your eyes. Just like screen protectors, they are made with material that blocks light in the blue light range on the spectrum. They can also be fitted with other features such as anti-glare and UV-A and UV-B protection.

Get yourself a good blue light filter and you’ll be set when it comes to preventing the negative consequences of blue light.


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