Studies on the harmful effects of blue light started first to appear several decades ago. However, the effects of artificial blue light rays on the human body became a more pressing issue during the pandemic. 
For many of us, the daily routine during the lockdown has been associated with 7-12 hours of screen time. At the end of such a day, both heads and eyes are exhausted. Yet — many of us are hardly able to fall asleep.
Overworking combined with minimal social interaction during the lockdown is only part of the problem. Multiple studies confirm that the prime culprit is prolonged exposure to blue light rays.

 

What makes blue light so different from other wavelengths of colors?

We’re well aware that light, both natural and artificial, is produced in multiple colors. According to the University Corporation of Atmospheric Research, the human eye can easily distinguish seven standard colors — red, yellow, orange, green, indigo, violet, and blue. 

Each color has its wavelength, frequency, and energy values. Red has the longest wavelength and the smallest energy value. That’s why it is so calming for the human eye. 

Light blue and violet have the shortest wavelength, the most energy, and the highest vibration intensity. That’s why their side of the spectrum is somewhat irritating for a human eye in the long term.

 

Is blue that bad?

No, of course not. During the daytime and in a natural environment, blue light carries a whole range of benefits:

  • The color blue keeps us awake and cheerful (one of the reasons why so many athletic brands use various shades of blue in their branding).
  • Blue elevates our mood (imagine bright blue skies or aquamarine blue waves on a beach).
  • Some physicians even state that looking at blue colors can help improve memory and other cognitive functions.

Moreover, artificially created blue light may treat acne and even skin cancer!

 

Then what makes blue light so unhealthy?

Short answer — people are using it wrong. The long answer would contain several mutually complementary explanations:

  • We are increasingly exposed to artificial blue light rays instead of naturally produced ones;
  • LED light bulbs are increasing in popularity, both at home and in offices, for economic reasons primarily;
  • Daily mobile screen time is only getting longer across all social groups and generations.
  • The laptop has become the most preferred device for studying, working, watching movies, playing games, communicating, and even family get-togethers.

In simple terms, most electronic devices surrounding us produce artificial blue light waves that affect us daily.

 

 

What are the side effects of blue light exposure?

For daily laptop users, 10 out of 10 would certainly tick at least one item from the following list:

  • Sleep disruptions
  • Daily headaches
  • Eye strain and the so-called “dry eye” syndrome
  • Blurry vision
  • Facial muscle fatigue
  • Metabolism issues
  • Drastic changes in blood sugar levels
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • And even diabetes/obesity

While blue light is not the most influential factor for causing severe illness (cardiovascular and weight-related diseases), it is a significant daily contributing factor. 

Peer-reviewed studies have already proven a direct correlation between regular exposure to blue light and the elevated risk of developing several different types of cancers.

 

 

Why is everyone talking about blue light concerning melatonin?

Because poor sleeping quality is probably the most common complaint directly correlated with prolonged exposure to blue light.

Melatonin is the hormone that makes us snoozy when the proper time comes. Bright artificial light tends to suppress melatonin production in our bodies. In other words, exposure to any bright light source confuses our bodies as it makes the brain think it is still daytime.

Blue light is the most aggressive of all light types when it comes to melatonin suppression.

Multiple independent studies (in the US, Finland, and Germany) have demonstrated that blue light exposure immediately impacts melatonin production in our bodies.

 

 

How can a person stay safe?

The problem of controlling blue light exposure is well known across several medical fields, primarily ophthalmology and insomnia specialists. The recommendations are rather general:

  • Use dim red and green light bulbs during the evening time, especially in your bedroom.
  • Try forgetting about the existence of your phone for at least one hour before going to bed.
  • Work on your laptop under natural light (sitting on the balcony, for example).
  • Take two-minute breaks every 25 minutes you are working with your laptop (or tablet). Try focusing your eyes on deep red or green-colored objects (plants in your room or trees in the window) during these breaks.
  • Do not set the contrast levels of your laptop/mobile screen on the maximum.
  • Use the so-called artificial tears (or similar eye drops) if you have dry eye symptoms.
  • Wear glasses with the right (recently checked) prescription.
  • If you are not wearing prescribed glasses or prefer contact lenses — try blue-light-blocking glasses.

 

        The recommendations above seem to be easy to follow. However, keep in mind the following:

        • Working under natural light and with regular pauses may be somewhat unrealistic (especially during the colder months of the year when it is cold outside and gets dark early).
        • Minimizing the contrast levels on every screen is a good option only for people with 100% vision. All others would experience an even more potent eye strain and a headache.
        • Daily use of eye drops is quite expensive and can eventually lead to addiction.

        An increasing number of ophthalmologists recommend wearing special glasses that block blue light exposure. They are usually known as computer screen glasses or blue light filters. As compared to other recommendations above, blue light glasses indeed have several unbeatable advantages:

        1. The eyes are the organ most affected by blue light exposure. If you want to reduce the level of this exposure — always start with the eyes. Melatonin pills or changing your office space would be of secondary importance.

        2. Glasses protect the entire area around the eyes. Thus, protection against exposure is nearly 100%.

        3. Eye drops and melatonin in pills are a treatment. Glasses, on the other hand, are a preventive measure. When it comes to our bodies, prevention is always better than treatment.

        4. Glasses are easy to use. You can put them on and take them off whenever you want, or you can wear them all day long.

        5. Finally, most people look more competent and slicker when wearing glasses (check out the celebrities’ photo comparison here).


        Whatever you settle on, taking the necessary steps to reduce your exposure to blue light can go a long way towards helping your body recover.