What is Toxic Blue Light?

I’m not sure I believe in the terminology of ‘toxic blue light’… but I love, absolutely love these new blue-blocking lenses.

These are lenses that cut out not only all of the UV wavelengths, but also some of the short, blue wavelength visible light. UV is 100-380 nm wavelengths. The blue-violet band between 390 and 500 nm is known as high-energy visible (HEV) light. However, it is particularly the wavelengths between 390 and 440 nm emitted by LED devices that are thought to be damaging to our eyes and disruptive to our body clocks. We haven’t been using our LED displays long enough to see real long-term effects of the blue light emitted by LED devices on our eyes. Research indicates that it may be quite harmful (more on that in follow-up posts). This may be particularly true for those who spend long hours in front of their screens (isn’t that most of us now?).

We’ve heard for years that it’s good to go out and get some sun to reset our body clock, to get over jet-lag, to stock up on Vitamin D. Sunlight triggers the pineal gland in our brain to regulate the secretion of melatonin. That melatonin, along with some other hormones are largely responsible for regulating our circadian rhythm. Recently, we’re finding out that our bright new LED displays might be doing something similar. Question is: does it affect us?

My Story

Let me start by telling you my own story. It’s only when I get home that I have a chance to really sit, research, work and write. I often spend long hours in front of the screen. It’s not unusual that I’ll go to sleep in the early hours of the morning. It’s a bad combination when you don’t sleep well and when you don’t sleep enough. My health was starting to show signs of stress and strain. The solution was to stop working on the screen at least an hour before wanting to fall asleep and well, that’s really annoying when you just want to finish what you’re doing! After a while, I actually had to just reduce my workload because I was no longer coping.

I first tried what we now call our Blue Block lenses earlier this year. The older iterations of these lenses look yellow and frankly, they are ugly. They are now almost completely clear and I felt that chatter about the dangers of blue light had only increased, that I should probably try them out. Looking through them doesn’t look any different to me. For a few weeks I really didn’t pay any attention to the fact that my lenses had changed. The ‘aha’ moment came when I suddenly realised that I’d been sleeping really well for the whole prior week! I started to pay more attention to this and realised that I was definitely not getting the sleep deprivation affects I was getting without the lenses. For that reason alone, I fell in love with them.

Outcome

I’ve since started recommending these lenses to my patients who spend a lot of time in-front of their screen or people who like to read from their tablet or phone at night. The feedback we’ve received has been quite consistent, people are definitely noticing a difference. We can now get these lenses from almost all the labs in all the variations we might need for a lens suitable for you, just ask us at your next appointment.

I’m going to follow up with a couple of posts about blue light with more detail and references.