Let’s Talk about Light

Let’s Talk about Light | W. John Murrell, M.D. | Amarillo, TXVision is the byproduct of light. Wavelengths of light enter the eye and stream to the retina, where a clear image is formed through the interpretation of light. In sunlight, there are wavelengths of violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange, and red light. Interestingly enough, the joining of every one of these colors creates white light. While the full spectrum of wavelengths of light is necessary, there are also details about the light that should be known.

Light is energy. Therefore, every wavelength of light emits a certain amount of energy. Red light has longer wavelengths. Blue light has shorter wavelengths. The shorter the wavelength, the higher energy emission is from that light. So, blue light has some of the highest energy output on the spectrum.

Are You Being Exposed?

Other than the blue light that is present in natural sunlight, there are other sources that have become increasingly common in recent years. Some of the primary ways that we are exposed to blue light today include:

  • LED television screens
  • LED light bulbs
  • Compact fluorescent light (CFL) light bulbs
  • Digital devices (smart phones, computer screens, tablets, etc.)

Yikes! That’s a lot of blue light exposure!

Why it Matters

Blue light in sunlight is good for health. It boosts alertness and has historically been a prime factor in healthy circadian rhythm, or sleep cycle. When there is too little exposure to natural sunlight and its full spectrum of colors, including blue light, children may not develop optimal eye health or vision. When too much blue light exposure takes place, though, sleep cycles are disrupted, sometimes dramatically. Because research suggests that children absorb more blue light through the eyes than adults, exposure becomes a very real concern.

Exposure to excessive blue light can lead to digital eye strain. This condition may manifest as dry eyes or a sense of tiredness and irritation. Consequently, digital eye strain may cause a person to have difficulty focusing. This is frustrating but maybe not all that concerning. What is concerning is the high likelihood of retinal damage caused by blue light. When exposure occurs continually over time, the risk of age-related macular degeneration increases substantially.

Protecting your Eyes

In addition to seeing your eye doctor on a regular basis, you can support eye health by limiting screen time. If you work on a computer, you may add a filter to your monitor to reduce blue light. Computer glasses with a yellow tint may also be worn, or lenses with anti-reflective coating.

Is it time to check your eye health? Call (806) 351-1177

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