High intensity blue light is bad for your eyes

By: Erico Perez, M.D., Marrikka Perez, M.D.
For Perez Optical Cubao Patients
High intensity blue light is bad for your eyes.

If there is one sentence that you have to take to heart from this article, it is the above. Visible light is only a part of the wide electromagnetic spectrum. The visible light spectrum ranges from 700 nm to 400nm corresponding to the colors seen in the rainbow represented by the letters ROY G BIV. Parts of the electromagnetic spectrum with longer wavelengths (longer than the color Red) are infrared light, microwaves, radar and radio waves. That part of the spectrum with shorter wavelengths (and thus higher in frequency; shorter in wavelength than that of the color blue and violet) are Ultraviolet light, X rays and Gamma rays. There has been a number of research stating that Ultraviolet (UV) and the part of the visible spectrum of light near UV (the blue, indigo and violet end to be precise) are detrimental to the retina of the eye. The retina is a thin layer of tissue in the back of the eyeball which receives light and, with the help of the photosensitive cells in it, converts it into signals that are sent to the brain. The most sensitive part of the retina where the most acute vision is processed is called the macula. In short, the exacerbation of Macular degeneration, cataracts and other diseases that cause blindness can result from excessive exposure to high frequency, short wavelength lights like UV and blue lights.

Sources of these high intensity UV/blue light are, to name a few, artificial light labeled as “full spectrum” and “daylight”, blue tinged headlights and similar lights, the light from welding sites and sunlight.

Those in particular danger when exposed to these lights are those who already have Macular degeneration, those who are aging, those prone to similar eye problems, those with problems like diabetes which may lead to retinal damage, and those whose jobs will continually expose them to damaging light. These days, you often see cars on the road with blue light either on their headlights or inside the cab. The people who pass them on the road probably will not be affected by the brief interaction but the drivers are constantly being exposed to the light either directly or indirectly as the light is reflected from other cars or objects as they drive. People who are often in front of the Computer monitor with their screens on bright while using blue colored wallpaper and without any filters or UV protective eyewear are also prone to damaging their eyes. Those watching TV for long periods on full brightness and in close distance may also be affected. Those who sunbathe, those who go to tanning salons and those who work under the sun without using proper eye protection are in danger.

Note that healthy eyes have retinas that have a wide array of built-in chemical defenses against UV-blue light damage. These are the xanthophyll, melanin, superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione peroxidase, and the the more familiar agents vitamin E, vitamin C, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Unfortunately, these defenses can weaken with disease, injury, neglect, and age.

People can further protect their eyes through the following:

  1. Avoid exposure to High intensity blue light and Ultraviolet light.
  2. Use protective lenses, contacts or filters. Specifically, UV protective eye protection should be chosen. There are UV protective eyeglass lenses as well as Contact lenses that offer protection. Sunglasses with extra UV protection when outdoors are advisable. Monitor filters are available from most computer stores.
  3. Take sufficient vitamins (in your diet or via supplements) that benefit the eyes like Vitamin E, Vitamin C. Note that there is such a thing as an overdose of vitamins.
  4. When in front of the Computer monitor or Television set, adjust the brightness to the lowest comfortable setting. The contrast for monitors and the picture settings in TVs can help despite a low brightness setting. Try to avoid the use of blue colored backgrounds. Try to put some distance between the eyes and the light source. When watching TV, sit at a distance of 5x the width of the screen.
  5. Replace Blue light headlights and cabin lamps with regular headlights and lamps.
  6. Replace “daylight” or full-spectrum lights with lights that are not as bright. Find a light that is sufficient enough to see and work with. Full spectrum lights are those with CCT (Correlated Color Temperature) of 5000K or higher and a CRI (Color Rendering Index) of 90 or higher or basically those lights bright enough to try to imitate daylight. Choose “warmer” lights like the red and yellow hues of candlelight and avoid the “cooler” lights that imitate a clear blue sky.




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