What is blue light?

Health & Nutrition - - HEALTH FLASH -

Blue light is a colour in the ‘vis­i­ble light spec­trum’ that can be seen by the hu­man eye. Sources of blue light in­clude the sun, dig­i­tal screens (TVs, com­put­ers, lap­tops, smart phones and tablets), elec­tronic de­vices, and flu­o­res­cent and LED light­ing. Blue light waves are among the short­est, high­est en­ergy wave­lengths in the vis­i­ble light spec­trum. Be­cause they are shorter, these ‘blue’ or High En­ergy Vis­i­ble (HEV) wave­lengths flicker more eas­ily than longer, weaker wave­lengths. This kind of flick­er­ing cre­ates a glare that can reduce vis­ual con­trast and af­fect sharp­ness and clar­ity. This flick­er­ing and glar­ing are also one of the rea­sons for eye­strains, headaches, phys­i­cal and men­tal fa­tigue caused by many hours of sit­ting in front of a com­puter screen or other elec­tronic de­vice. Pro­longed ex­po­sure to blue light may cause reti­nal da­m­age and con­trib­ute to age-re­lated mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion, which can lead to loss of vi­sion. Har­vard re­searchers have linked work­ing in the night and ex­po­sure to blue light at night to sev­eral types of can­cer (breast, prostate) di­a­betes, heart dis­ease, obe­sity and an in­creased risk for de­pres­sion. WHAT YOU CAN DO Avoid look­ing at bright screens be­gin­ning two to three hours be­fore bed. If you work a night shift or use a lot of elec­tronic de­vices at night, con­sider wear­ing blue-block­ing glasses or in­stalling an app that fil­ters the blue/ green wave­length at night. Ex­pose your­self to lots of bright light dur­ing the day, which will boost your abil­ity to sleep at night, as well as your mood and alert­ness dur­ing day­light. Blink, blink, blink. One rea­son that we are more sus­cep­ti­ble to dry eye when us­ing elec­tron­ics is that our blink rate is re­duced sig­nif­i­cantly. Put a post-it note on your com­puter screen that says ‘Blink’! Blink­ing more of­ten will keep your eyes moist and re­freshed. It is im­pos­si­ble to avoid dig­i­tal de­vices in the work­place, but you can reduce the amount of time you spend on elec­tron­ics when you are not work­ing. Dig­i­tal de­vices of­ten pro­vide a pas­sive ‘es­cape’ from re­al­ity that seems en­joy­able, but it can be a poor use of your time and can just in­crease eye fa­tigue and mus­cle strain.

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