Eye Safety / Ultraviolet & Blue Light
Ultraviolet and Blue Light
Sunlight contains UV and blue light. UV light is part of the non-visible light spectrum and we are exposed to it every day when we’re out in the sun. It can cause damage to our eyes, particularly the cornea and the lens.
TOO MUCH UV light affects the front of the eye (cataract formation), while TOO MUCH blue light causes damage to the back of the eye (risk of age-related macular degeneration – AMD).
- First and most important — get an eye exam to rule out the possibility of eye disease as the cause of your symptoms. You could simply need glasses when working at a computer, or your prescription might need updating;
- Screen distance — you should sit approximately 20 inches from the computer monitor, a little further than you would for reading distance, with the top of the screen at or below eye level.
- Equipment — choose a monitor that tilts or swivels, and has both contrast and brightness controls;
- Furniture — an adjustable chair is best;
- Reference materials — keep reference materials on a document holder so you don’t have to keep looking back and forth, frequently refocusing your eyes and turning your neck and head;
- Lighting — modify your lighting to eliminate reflections or glare. A hood or micromesh filter for your screen might help limit reflections and glare; and
- Rest breaks — take periodic rest breaks, and try to blink often to keep your eyes from drying out.
The cumulative effect of UV exposure can contribute to cataracts and other eye diseases.
UV light can cause sunburn and destruction of vitamin A. In more chronic forms, it can lead to skin wrinkling and damage to DNA, which can lead to melanomas and other skin disease. So exposure to UVB is cumulative to both the body and the eyes.
Just as UV light is dangerous to our skin, it’s also dangerous to our eyes. So it’s important that we protect them from UV damage.
Not all blue light is bad. Blue light can have healthy affects on vision as well as the body, and it is blue-turquoise light that tends to have beneficial effects.
Inadequate light exposure means inadequate blue-turquoise light, which can throw off our sleep/wake cycle. So this blue-turquoise light really plays a vital role in the general health of the individual.
There’s an increase in the use of digital devices and LED lights and compact fluorescent lamps which emit a high levels of blue light.
Blue light reaches deeper into the eye and its cumulative effect can cause damage to the retina. Furthermore, in certain wavelengths, blue light is implicated in the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
By 2020, 90% of our light sources is estimated to be LED lighting. So our exposure to blue light is only increasing.
This underscores the need for us to protect our eyes from the harmful bands of blue-violet light.
Who most needs protection?
Those who have high exposure to white LED or fluorescent light bulbs in offices and homes, frequent users of LED computer monitors, tablets or smart phones.
Many companies are working on technology to look at harmful blue light and ways to block that and still allow healthy blue light to remain.
What Is Blue Light?
Visible light is much more complex than you might think.
Stepping outdoors into sunlight; flipping on a wall switch indoors; turning on your computer, phone or other digital device — all of these things result in your eyes being exposed to a variety of visible (and sometimes invisible) light rays that can have a range of effects.
Most people are aware that sunlight contains visible light rays and also invisible ultra violet rays that can tan or burn the skin. But what many don’t know is that the visible light emitted by the sun comprises a range of different-colored light rays that contain different amounts of energy.
Rays on the red end of the visible light spectrum have longer wavelengths and, therefore, less energy. Rays on the blue end of the spectrum have shorter wavelengths and more energy.
On one end of the visible light spectrum, blue light rays with the shortest wavelengths and highest energy, are sometimes called blue-violet or violet light. This is why the invisible electromagnetic rays just beyond the visible light spectrum are called ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
The Perils And Benefits Of UV
UV rays have higher energy than visible light rays, which makes them capable of producing changes in the skin that create a suntan. In fact, the bulbs in tanning booths emit a controlled amount of UV radiation specifically for this reason.
But too much exposure to UV causes painful sunburn — and even worse, can lead to skin cancer. These rays also can cause sunburned eyes — a condition called photokeratitis or snow blindness.
But ultraviolet radiation, in moderation, also has beneficial effects, such as helping the body manufacture adequate amounts of vitamin D.
Key Points About Blue Light
1. Blue light is everywhere.
Sunlight is the main source of blue light, and being outdoors during daylight is where most of us get most of our exposure to it.
The display screens of computers, electronic notebooks, smartphones and other digital devices emit significant amounts of blue light. The amount of HEV light these devices emit is only a fraction of that emitted by the sun. But the amount of time people spend using these devices and the proximity of these screens to the user’s face have many eye doctors are concerned about possible long-term effects of blue light on eye health.
BLUE LIGHT NEWS
Apple Released Blue Light Filter In iOS Update For iPhones And iPads
Blue light exposure may increase the risk of macular degeneration.
The fact that blue light penetrates all the way to the retina (the inner lining of the back of the eye) is important, because laboratory studies have shown that too much exposure to blue light can damage light-sensitive cells in the retina. This causes changes that resemble those of macular degeneration which can lead to permanent vision loss.
Although more research is needed to determine how much natural and man-made blue light is “too much blue light” for the retina, many eye care providers are concerned that the added blue light exposure from computer screens, smartphones and other digital devices might increase a person’s risk of macular degeneration later in life.
Blue light contributes to digital eye strain.
Because short-wavelength, high energy blue light scatters more easily than other visible light, it is not as easily focused. When you’re looking at computer screens and other digital devices that emit significant amounts of blue light, this unfocused visual “noise” reduces contrast and can contribute to digital eye strain.
Research has shown that computer glasses with yellow-tinted lenses may increase comfort when you’re viewing digital devices for extended periods of time.
Dr. Sultan can recommend lenses and filters that protect your eyes from blue light.
It’s well documented that some blue light exposure is essential for good health. Research has shown that high-energy visible light boosts alertness, helps memory and cognitive function and elevates mood.
In fact, something called light therapy is used to treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD) — a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons, with symptoms usually beginning in the fall and continuing through winter. The light sources for this therapy emit bright white light that contains a significant amount of HEV blue light rays.
Also, blue light is very important in regulating circadian rhythm — the body’s natural wakefulness and sleep cycle. Exposure to blue light during daytime hours helps maintain a healthful circadian rhythm. But too much blue light late at night (reading a novel on a tablet computer or e-reader at bedtime, for example) can disrupt this cycle, potentially causing sleepless nights and daytime fatigue.
Blue Light Filters And Protective Eyewear
If you are using your phone constantly — especially if you use it primarily for texting, e-mailing and web browsing — a convenient way to reduce your blue light exposure is to use a blue light filter.
Digital electronic devices emit blue light that can cause eye strain and may lead to eye problems over time.
These filters are available for smartphones, tablets, and computer screens and prevent significant amounts of blue light emitted from these devices from reaching your eyes without affecting the visibility of the display. Some are made with thin tempered glass that also protects your device’s screen from scratches.
An eye exam with Dr. Sultan will determine which type of vision correction and lens features best suit your needs for viewing your computer and other digital devices.
March Is Eye Safety Month
With so many people using computers at work and at home, complaints of eye strain, difficulty focusing and discomfort have become commonplace in doctors’ offices.
One of the main reasons for this is — although offices have marched into the age of technology, not much else has. People are still using the same lighting, furniture and desk configurations they had when using typewriters.
To mark March as Workplace Eye Safety Month, the American Academy of Ophthalmology has put together some tips to help us alleviate some of the eye problems modern technology has given birth to. They are:
Another thing to remember is that the forced-air heating systems in big office buildings can increase problems with dry eyes during the winter months. The usual symptoms of dry eye are stinging or burning eyes, scratchiness, a feeling that there’s something in the eye, excessive tearing or difficulty wearing contact lenses.
Over-the-counter eye drops, called artificial tears, usually help, but if dry eye persists, see your eye doctor for an evaluation.
More than 2,000 eye injuries occur on the job site every day and about one in 10 of them require missed work days to recover. Of the total amount of work-related eye injuries, 10 to 20 percent will cause temporary or permanent vision loss in the affected employees.
And, while many people think that eye injuries primarily occur in manufacturing, construction or trade jobs, nearly 40 percent of work-related eye injuries occur in offices, healthcare facilities, laboratories and similar environments.
Flying objects, tools, particles, chemicals and harmful radiation, are the causes of most eye injuries. And in many cases, implementing safe work practices and utilizing appropriate personal protective equipment could prevent them entirely.
March is Workplace Eye Safety Awareness Month and that is why we are taking this opportunity to remind you of a few tips to help protect your eyes while on the job.
Always wear the appropriate safety eyewear for your job site or role, even if you are just passing through a hazardous area.
If working in an area with particles or dust, be sure to wear safety glasses with side shields to protect against flying objects.
When working with chemicals, always wear safety goggles or face shields to protect against splashing.
When working around hazardous radiation like welding, lasers or fiber optics, be sure to use special-purpose safety goggles and helmets designed specifically for the task.
So remember – something as simple as putting on a pair of safety glasses can prevent serious eye injuries. These injuries are painful,cause many lost workdays and sometimes lead to permanent vision loss. So during the month of March, and year round, remember to wear your safety glasses!