Blue light blinds mil­lions

The Oban Times - - LEISURE - with John Wal­lace

By the time you read this the new ‘leader of the free world’ will have been elected. Every­where on ra­dio, TV or in­ter­net there is con­stant talk of the forth­com­ing Amer­i­can pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. The depths to which the pro­tag­o­nists have sunk is truly ap­palling.

Last night I was re­search­ing in­for­ma­tion about the haz­ards of blue light. One ar­ti­cle that stood out was from a Trump-sup­port­ing doc­tor. The head­line read: ‘Clin­ton blinds 20 mil­lion Amer­i­cans.’ He ac­cused Hil­lary Clin­ton of caus­ing Amer­i­cans to go blind be­cause she had pro­moted cli- mate con­trol mea­sures in­clud­ing using LED and flu­o­res­cent lamps. These emit high lev­els of blue light, which can be haz­ardous to the hu­man eye. He ar­gued this blue light was the main cause of mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion which leads to pro­gres­sive vi­sion loss par­tic­u­larly in the el­derly pop­u­la­tion. He spent many para­graphs at­tack­ing Hil­lary Clin­ton for per­son­ally caus­ing this ‘avoid­able catas­tro­phe’ and then of­fered a so­lu­tion using a prod­uct he was sell­ing for many hun­dreds of dol­lars per year.

Do these new lamps cause eye prob­lems? Many of my pa­tients don’t like them. They have dif­fi­culty read­ing due to the low light lev­els emit­ted. They com­plain of headaches and sore eyes which they did not suf­fer when using old-fash­ioned tung­sten lamps. Yes, they do emit blue light, as do com­puter screens and smart phones. We should all be using blue light fil­ters in our glasses to pro­tect against pos­si­ble harm.

Our diet can also help. Eat­ing a diet rich in carotenoids (that’s highly pig­mented foods such as car­rots, spinach and broc­coli) can help. These can pro­vide a de­gree of nat­u­ral pro­tec­tion in the retina which helps fil­ter out harm­ful blue light. Your op­tometrist can ad­vise you on ap­pro­pri­ate pro­tec­tion mea­sures which can re­duce the risk of mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion caused by blue light.

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