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Artificial blue light exposure – a hazard to our health?

Written by

Deborah Freudenmann BHSc

In our modern world, I believe an important question that we should start to ask is whether the constant exposure to technology and artificial light could actually be the cause of our health complaints?

Just take a brief moment to consider if you struggle or suffer from any of the below.

  • Fatigue
  • Headache/migraines
  • Insomnia/poor sleep
  • Eye strain
  • Dry or watery eyes
  • Macular degeneration
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Retina damage
  • Dysregulated hormones
  • Poor mental health/cognition
  • Poor memory/concentration
  • Mood swings
  • Bipolar disorder

 

How often do you sit in front of a computer? How often do you look at your phone during the day and at night? Do you also have a tablet which you use? How often do you watch TV? Or simply sit at home with the lights on?

What is blue light?

Many of the harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation is absorbed and scattered by the earth’s atmosphere. A pivotal difference between natural and artificial light is its spectrum.

These different wavelengths influence our systems in very distinct ways, and both are essential to the balance of our body and mind. Our sunlight contains all different colours of the spectrum. Each of these colours have a different wavelength and therefore different energies associated.
The colours red, orange, and yellow also classified as warmer colours are low energy whereas the cooler colours like purple, blue and green all contain high amounts of energy.

Artificial light does not cover all spectrums as natural light does. While daylight varies all over the day – going from red to blue during midday and then back to red. Artificial lighting stays the same spectrum all day long and all night long.

Blue light is also being found in large quantities in artificial light of digital devices such as your smart phone, laptop and tablet as well as in office and house lighting.

Figure 1. Colours of daylight

Preto, S. (2019). Red or blue light? Which one is better? Is there a right answer? Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing (Vol. 791). Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-94589-7_45

Why is this important?

Blue light is a natural part of the sunlight spectrum, however when the dosage is too much it disrupts us, altering our circadian rhythm and everything that depends on it.

Digital eyestrain & blue light

Blue light passes through the cornea and lens and reaches the retina and in the process may damage the retina or cells of the eyes. With the sun, blue light is balanced with red light and invisible infrared (IR) light which has been shown in some studies to heal and repair cellular damage.

As mentioned prior, since artificial light is devoid of this visible red light and invisible IR light we are exposed to blue light in isolation which can cause damage to the eye with no healing light present. This is what we call digital eye strain. Another major cause of digital eyestrain is flickering blue light. Almost all LEDs flicker – this can be found in computer screens, smart phones, tablets but also in office lighting and at home.

What are some symptoms of digital eyestrain?

  • Dry eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Migraines

Macular degeneration & blue light

Every year more than two million new cases of age-related macular degeneration are reported in the United States. Macular degeneration, an incurable eye disease that results in significant vision loss starting on average in a person’s 50s or 60s, is the death of photoreceptor cells in the retina. Those cells need molecules called retinal to sense light and trigger a cascade of signaling to the brain.

A study done at the University of Toledo found that blue light exposure causes the retina to trigger reactions that generate poisonous chemical molecules in our photoreceptor cells and eventually kills these cells.

Therefore, in our modern world it is important to know how we can protect ourselves from being overexposed to blue light. Alpha tocopherol, a vitamin E derivative and natural antioxidant in the eye and body can help halt the death of cells. Unfortunately, due to age and many other reasons our levels of Vitamin E can be low resulting in a loss of protection.
Supplementation of vitamin E as well as Zeaxanthin and lutein and wearing glasses (at certain times of the day) with a blue light filter is immensely beneficial.

Zeaxanthin is an antioxidant carotenoid found in your retina. It cannot be produced by the body and needs to be taken in through the diet or via supplementation. Lutein is found in your macular pigment, which helps protect your central vision and aids in blue light absorption. Lutein and xeaxanthin are primarily found in green leafy vegetables (kale, spinach being the highest) and orange and yellow coloured fruits and vegetables. Organic, pastured egg yolks are also a good source.

Both zeaxanthin and lutein are also found in high concentrations in your macula lutea and serve two primary roles such as absorption of excess photon energy and quenching of free-radicals before they damage our lipid membranes.

Sleep & blue light

Our human body functions with the circadian rhythm, often referred to as our body clock. Our circadian rhythm is basically a 24-hour internal clock that is running in the background of our brain and cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals. It’s also known as our sleep/wake cycle.

A part of your hypothalamus which is a portion of your brain controls your circadian rhythm. When the sun goes down, your eyes send a signal to the hypothalamus telling you it’s dark outside and time to get sleepy. This sends a cascade reaction as your brain tells your body to release the hormone melatonin which actually makes your body feel tired.

In essence the natural exposure to different light spectrums send the correct messages to our body clock (aka circadian rhythm) which keeps our hormone levels balanced within our bodies. Blue light, which we are exposed to during the day tells our body clock that it’s daytime! Just think of a bright blue sky. This blue blight communicates to our brain that we need to release hormones to be active such as cortisol, dopamine and serotonin.
When the sun sets and the outside gets dark our body clock knows that its night time and it prepares us for sleep by relaxing and unwinding. Our bodies are incredibly intelligent!

The absence of blue light after sunset allows our bodies to transform the serotonin made throughout the day into melatonin. HOWEVER, this is where the problem stems from. Most of us live in developed countries and no longer go to sleep when the sun sets. In our modern society we created artificial daytime by turning on our house lights, playing on our phones, switching on our TV… All of these and more contain high energy vibrational blue light.

  • Blue light between 440-480nm was determined to have the strongest effect on the suppression of melatonin
  • The strongest stimulation of circadian disruption occurred at 450-550nm
  • To improve sleep it would be ideal to block all blue light and most green light – which falls between 400-550nm

 

A large body of research demonstrates the unhealthy impact of blue light on sleep and sleep-wake bio rhythms:

  • Not only does blue light inhibit melatonin it also stimulates the production of cortisol, a major stress hormone which interferes with sleep
  • Exposure to blue light shortens sleep time and leads to more awakenings throughout the night
  • In some studies, it has shown that blue light aggressively inhibits the production of melatonin thus impacting sleep and our natural circadian rhythm
  • Blue light suppresses melatonin for more than twice as long as other visible light wavelengths
  • Room light that’s rich in blue wavelength light from high-efficiency light sources also suppresses melatonin

Mental health & blue light

A published study on the use of blue light glasses for one week in bipolar disorder cases led to some incredible results among the participants. Those individuals who wore blue-blocking orange-tinted glasses from 6pm to 8am for seven days had significant improvements in various symptoms including mania compared to those who wore clear glasses. The biggest factor was that the improvements began just after three nights of use.

How are glasses helpful?

Research has demonstrated that blue light blocking glasses are actually really effective at filtering out the blue spectrum of light. Which as a result has improved and restored disturbed sleep and disturbed biological rhythms/systems.

There are three different blue light glasses on the market. Computer glasses, yellow blue light glasses (used during the day) and sleep blue light glasses.

 

Computer glasses are a form of blue light glasses that filter down blue light between 5-30%. These blue light glasses filter a small amount of blue light from passing through your eyes and reduce digital eyestrain, headaches and mild migraine’s. These are not blue light blocking glasses, they are computer glasses. They will not help you sleep but they will help you with digital eyestrain during the day from working at a desk job.
Remember you do not want to block blue light during the day as this will disrupt your natural biological rhythms, instead focus on filtering blue light down to help prevent digital eyestrain. Everyone working for a prolonged time on the computer will benefit from these glasses.

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Yellow blue light glasses are the next step up in protection against damaging blue light during the day. They filter 50% of blue light which is better for people who have a sensitivity to blue light. A sensitivity to blue light may be shown in a person suffering migraine’s, severe headaches, stress, anxiety, fatigue or S.A.D. These people need extra blue light filtering during the day so they often opt for BLUblox SummerGlo blue light glasses. The yellow colour also helps to elevate mood which helps with conditions such as stress, anxiety and depression.

We need to ensure our evening environment is devoid of blue light and also green light. In order to achieve this optimally you need to wear a pair of blue light blocking glasses that block 100% of the light found between 400-550nm. The only product available that does this and has been scientifically proven to do this is BLUblox Sleep+ glasses. Simply wear these glasses 2-3 hours before bed to mimic ancestral times and get better sleep in just one use. Blue light blocking glasses that help with sleep are typically a deep orange or red colour. They are this colour as this colour is the only colour that can block 100% of light between 400 to 550nm. 

Final words

It is the light spectrum that activates, promotes, interrupts and or stops our normal biological functioning. Therefore it is important to be aware and monitor how much artificial light exposure we are getting on a day to day basis.

Unfortunately many of our advances in the modern world such as LEDs, mood lighting in our homes, computers, screens, constant access to a digital phone… actually harm our bodies. So if we work in front of a computer all day, or are exposed to artificial light several hours in one go we can really start to see these symptoms appear. As a matter of fact, as I write this article.. I’ve noticed just how many symptoms I have actually experienced from staring at a screen all day. 

Have you got blue light blocking glasses, if yes tell us what you think!

5 Responses

  1. Very good article. Blue light and the Electromagnetic fields from the computer produce “the rouleau formation” of the blood (blood cells sticking together – unhealthy blood cells). Dr. Magda Havas – Canada Leading Scientist in The Field of EMR / Biological Effects of Electric Magnetic Fields has also demonstrated this in a short video, Live Blood & Electrosmog. Similarly, Dr. Klinghardt also talks about this.

    I will add this article to my website.

    Thanks,

    Satesh Narain
    Casas de Healing

    1. Happy to hear you found it useful Livio. I absolutely love my blue light glasses while working on the computer! Warmest regards, Deborah

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