We are surrounded by blue light. It occurs naturally within sunlight and decreases as a percentage of visible light as the afternoon progresses. However, with artificial light, blue wavelengths do not decline but rather continue to illuminate the human environment long after sunset.
When photoreceptors sense the artificial blue wavelengths, the circadian system is fooled into thinking it’s the middle of the day. While ubiquitous artificial light can help us work and play whenever we want, it can be hard to avoid when we don’t want it.
This is especially true in professional settings.
The Workplace Lighting
Workplaces such as offices, factories, plants and laboratories increasingly illuminate their spaces with light emitting diodes (LEDs). By 2020, 45% of the global lighting market will be LED, according to Boston Consulting Group.
These bright and highly energy efficient bulbs support vision and address energy consumption issues. However, flooding workplaces with high energy blue LED wavelengths of light can create health problems for employees and productivity problems for bosses.
What about our Health?
Blue light can affect our health more than most people realize. Recent studies suggest that the blue end of the light spectrum may also contribute to retinal damage and possibly lead to AMD (Age-Related Macular degeneration). The retina can be harmed by high-energy visible radiation of blue/violet light that penetrates the macular pigment found in the eye. According to a study by The Schepens Eye Institute, a low density of macular pigment may represent a risk factor for AMD by permitting greater blue light damage. High-intensity light can have a detrimental impact on our eyes, mind, and body. It is essential to be aware of the risks to be able to protect yourself.
The majority of research on the effects of blue light has centered on the mechanisms behind the damage to the photoreceptors after just a short exposure to high intensity light. Other studies claim that subthreshold exposure to blue light can also induce damage in photoreceptors.
Several experts have suggested the total amount of blue light received during our lifetime can be a significant factor in the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Several investigations have proved that exposure to light of specific wavelengths or intensity may induce severe damage to the retina, which can impact vision. Photochemical damage to the eye occurs when the eyes are exposed to light of high intensity in the bluer ranges of the visible spectrum (390–600 nm).
Blue light exposure in the evening affects the quality of our sleep, and regular exposure may lead to sleep disorders. “Modern societies are now facing challenges in achieving adequate sleep and experiencing a multitude of sleep disturbances,” said Dr. Ana C. Krieger in an issue of Sleep Journal.
Sixty-two percent of US adults report regularly experiencing a sleep problem a few nights per week, and just over 12% have a chronic sleep disorder, according to the Statistic Brain Research Institute.
“The preliminary results show that blue-depleted LED light at night minimizes circadian disruption,” said Dr. Martin Moore-Ede, former Harvard professor and lead author of the research. It “also appears to prevent the elevated appetite and insulin resistance seen in the same subjects exposed to conventional LED lights at night,” he added.
Protecting Yourself from Blue Light
Taking precautions to keep your eyes safe from blue light has multiple benefits in our daily lives. In fact, 72.6% of American adults recently reported they did not know eyewear can be used to protect the eyes from short- and long-term effects of digital eye strain. Fortunately, there are many ways to protect yourself from blue light that are highly effective with little effort required.
Blue light blocking glasses
Blue light blocking glasses act as a personal blue light filter, they can protect the wearer at any time and wherever they go. These glasses generally block 99% of light at wavelengths shorter than 480 nm, which makes up the vast majority of potentially harmful blue light.
A study of blue light by researchers at the University of Toronto tested this theory. Melatonin levels of people exposed to bright indoor light who were wearing blue light blocking glasses were compared to people exposed to regular dim light without wearing glasses. When both groups demonstrated similar melatonin levels it reinforced the hypothesis that blue light is a potent suppressor of sleep and that blue light blocking glasses offer viable protection.
Several authors have investigated the amount of blue light received during an individual’s entire lifespan. They propose that it can be an important factor in the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). According to the 2016 the paper by Tosini, et al., “the use of lenses (intra- and extraocular) that block blue light (“blue-blockers”) may provide some protection against the development of AMD.”
Bollé Safety’s models available with anti-reflective B-ZEN coating against blue light:
Disclaimer: The information provided through Greenham Pulse is for general guidance only and is not legal advice. Greenham Pulse is not a substitute for Health and Safety consultancy. You should seek independent advice about any legal matter.