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Blue Light: What Is It and What Are the Risks?

by BetterSleep
Jun 24 • 5 min read

You probably expose yourself to blue light every day. No other generation has ever been accustomed to blue light. Chances are you’re reading this article on an electronic device that emits blue light.

In today’s article, we’ll be breaking down what exactly blue light is, whether or not there are risks, and how it can affect your sleep. Keep reading to learn more!

What is blue light?

Electromagnetic energy travels all around us, and we don’t even realize it. From radio waves to X-rays, this energy travels around us and even through us.

For the most part, this energy is invisible to the naked eye. However, we can see some electromagnetic waves known as light.

Red light, violet light, and even blue light are among the many we can see. We’re exposed to blue light through:

  • The sun
  • Fluorescence and incandescent light bulbs
  • Technology that relies heavily on LEDs (light-emitting diodes)

This includes technology like our phones and laptops. But do TVs have blue light too? The short answer is yes, any technology that uses LEDs in some capacity creates blue light.

What are the risks associated with blue light?

A common reason for eyesight loss in people 50 years of age and older is age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD affects the central vision of our eyes, it can damage the macula, a portion of the eyes that’s part of the retina.

You may be able to still see things in your peripheral vision, but your sight in the center becomes blurry. There are theories that exposure to blue light from electronics may speed up this process.

However, according to Harvard Health, the amount of blue light we’re exposed to in electronics, will not harm any part of your retina or other areas of your eye.

But, it could complicate and disrupt your ability to sleep and it may even cause eye strain. Using blue light-emitting electronics may make you blink less often, creating less moisture in your eye.

Because of this you may experience dry, tired, sore, or irritated eyes and the muscles on your face may become tired from squinting; headaches may also arise.

Blue light from electronics may even affect your sleep-wake cycle. In one study, researchers found people exposed to blue light in the evening didn’t release as much melatonin. Melatonin helps with the timing of our circadian rhythms and sleep. The brain releases it in response to darkness.

To counteract this effect of blue light, people have resorted to using nonprescription blue light glasses. The idea is to block the effects of the blue light, allowing you to use electronics close to bedtime without it affecting your sleep or causing digital eye strain.

However, one study found there was little evidence to support the claims that blue-blocking filters prevent eye strain from blue light.

Although there’s no harm to using blue light safety glasses, there’s no scientific evidence to back up the claims that they work.

Closing thoughts

More research needs to be conducted to figure out the long-term effects of exposure to blue light through electronics.

With that said, it may be best to avoid blue light before bedtime to help you get good sleep. Some studies do suggest that blue light could prevent the release of melatonin.

Make sure to share this article with a friend, coworker, or loved one who wants to learn more about blue light exposure and how it can affect us.

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