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The Light Spectrum and Your Eye Health

Colorful Eye Painting

The light spectrum follows a rainbow of colors from red to blue light, and not all of these hues have the same effect on your body and eye health. Natural blue light wavelengths, which are emitted by the sun, are highly beneficial during the daytime. They boost your mood, reaction times, and ability to stay focused. However, once the sun sets – the artificial blue light from computers and digital screens can wreak havoc in your body. Our Athens eye doctor, Dr. L. Leanne Whitaker, explains.

Is it Dangerous to Light Up the Night?

Until Thomas Edison created the first practical incandescent light bulb, the sun was our primary light source. At night, people spent most of their time in darkness. Nowadays, we take it for granted that our evenings are lit up. However, this illumination may not be an entirely good thing.

Daylight keeps your internal clock in line with the environment, and extra light at night disrupts this clock. It knocks your circadian rhythm out of order and suppresses the body’s production of melatonin, a hormone that helps you sleep. Therefore, your sleep suffers as a result of all this light exposure. Studies also show that light-related sleep deprivation may contribute to diabetes, cancer, depression, heart disease, and obesity.

All Light is Not the Same

Any type of light can interfere with melatonin secretion, however blue light at night has the most powerful effect. Studies show that exposure to blue light suppresses melatonin for twice as long as exposure to green light, and shifted circadian rhythms by double the amount of time!

What if you work the night shift or need to scramble all night long to meet a deadline? Research conducted by eye doctors shows that specialized eyewear to block blue light can be very helpful.

Protect Your Eye Health with Blue Light Eyewear

Healthy eyes contain melanin, which functions as a natural filter against normal exposure to blue light. However, melanin doesn’t offer sufficient protection against overexposure – which is a typical problem for people who spend hours viewing screens and computers. Also, melanin decreases with age, and recent studies suggest that the large quantities of blue light shining into our eyes are threatening eye health. Blue light from computers may be leading to a higher rate of retinal damage and macular degeneration, and it also causes digital eyestrain. Specialized computer glasses can offer a convenient and effective solution to protect your eyes. Ask our Athens eye doctor for more information.

Bright Tips for Lasting Eye Health & Body Health

  • If you use night lights, choose dim red lights. They have the weakest effects on circadian rhythm and melatonin production.
  • Avoid gazing at bright screens at least two to three hours before bed. (Yes, that means turning off all digital gadgets!)
  • If you must work or use computers through the late hours of the night, invest in a pair of blue light-blocking eyeglasses, or install an app to filter the blue/green wavelength. You can also adjust the color balance on your computer screen to emit a redder hue.
  • After sundown, use specialized LED light bulbs that are designed to filter out blue light wavelengths.
  • Make sure to spend a lot of daytime in bright light, which will improve your ability to sleep deeply at night. As an added bonus, it will also boost your daytime mood and energy levels.

Our Athens eye doctor can help you maximize your eye health! Book a consultation to learn more about how to protect yourself against the dangers of computers and blue light.