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Effects of blue light on eye health

Ultraviolet and Blue Light

Ultraviolet (UV) light is known to be harmful to the human eye, causing cataracts and macular degeneration of the retina. UV light is defined as a part of the invisible spectrum that ranges from 380 nanometers to 200 nanometers. Recent scientific data has demonstrated that exposure to UV or "blue light" can also be harmful and affect the structure of the eye. Blue light is light with a wavelength between 500 and 381 nanometers. Of concern is the blue light from "black light" lamps and bulbs commonly found in nightclubs and bars. This blue light causes items to fluoresce in dark rooms and is considered an ideal environment by partygoers and trend-setters.

How does blue light damage the eyes?

Retina

Studies in zoological departments since 1980 have shown that prolonged exposure to high-intensity blue light causes inflammation and damage to the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). The RPE is a very fragile layer of cells that is critical to the maintenance and function of the optic rod and cone layers, which are made up of the outgrowths of the optic rod and cone cells. Melanin, a common pigment component of the RPE in large proportions, absorbs intense blue light, leading to oxidative damage to RPE cells. The human eye has a natural protection against blue light. The human lens and lutein, a yellow pigment found in high concentrations in the macula (center of the retina), function to filter blue light. Such a function acts as an insignificant protective layer for the optic rod cone layer. This type of repeated aggressive phototoxicity and damage eventually leads to permanent damage to the retina, collectively known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is the most common cause of irreversible blindness in the aging population, and in most cases this is incurable. Ophthalmologists are aware of the dangers associated with blue light and have been using blue light filters in their lenses and devices when examining patients. In addition, IOL manufacturing companies incorporate blue light filters into their IOLs to minimize direct exposure of the retina to blue light after cataract surgery.

Lens

The body's natural lens inherently absorbs intense UV and blue light and therefore acts as a protective layer for the retina. Prolonged absorption of UV and blue light by the lens can lead to gradual clouding of the lens and eventually cataract formation. Therefore, the lens acts as a natural absorber of UV and blue light, thus helping to protect the retina from these harmful rays. Most authorities now believe that the absorption of UV and blue light by the lens is a major factor in cataract formation. Thus, while protecting the retina from UV and blue light, the lens becomes cataractous.

How to prevent

Eyeglasses/Sunglasses

Both the retina and the lens should be protected from UV and blue light on the lifeline. This also helps to delay the onset of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. This is especially important for nearsighted people, whose retinas are thinner and more susceptible to damage.

Recent studies have shown that in our modern environment, neither the human cornea nor the natural lens provides adequate protection against blue light. In addition, the natural lens is barely cloudy in people under 20 years of age. Any UV or blue light that enters the eye is not effectively filtered and shines at maximum intensity on the retina. Wearing sunglasses can effectively reduce the amount of UV and blue light entering our eyes. Even clear plastic glasses (such as polycarbonate glasses) have the ability to filter out UV light. However, they do not filter out blue light. Yellow filtered lenses provide the best contrast for most people while providing UV and blue light protection.

 

Avoiding UV and blue light

In addition to wearing appropriate eyeglasses/sunglasses, you can limit your exposure to UV and blue light by taking some simple precautions. Reduce the number of black lights used at parties and clubs. If possible, replace cool-colored white fluorescent tubes or incandescent, full-spectrum, fluorescent tubes or bulbs, or mercury lamps with warm-colored fluorescent tubes.

 

Watch your diet

Foods rich in vitamin A, lutein, beta-carotene, zeaxanthin and antioxidants are protective against AMD. Green vegetables and brightly colored fruits and vegetables are rich sources of such nutrients and should be consumed on a regular basis.

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