10 Tops Ways to Crush Digital Blue Light From Screens and 9 Great Reasons Why You Want To Protect Your Eyes and Your Health
- Visible blue light is actually quite natural and quite lovely when it does occur naturally, like in a beautiful blue sky on a sparkling sunlit afternoon. The cause for concern is artificial blue light, particularly from screens.
- The problem is we're looking at it when we shouldn't be, we're seeing too much of it and we're looking at it for long periods of time.
How is Artificial Blue Light From Our Screens Bad?
- It can cause eye-strain and vision problems.
- It can suppress melatonin production and stop the melatonin from being released in our bodies.
Why Melatonin is Good?
- For starters, it's the sleep-regulating hormone that's produced in our pituitary gland and light actually stops it from being secreted.
- Lack of melatonin has been linked to not only problems with sleep, but inflammation, immune function, and even cancer.
How Anti Blue Light Glasses Help Melatonin and Sleep
It's appears, no pun intended, that seeing any blue light in a particular range can stop melatonin secretion.
When we talk about the nasty type of Blue Light and all the ways it can mess with our body wellness, we're talking about a range of blue light in the melanopic spectrum. That would be the light that falls in the 400 to 500 nanometer range. This particular range blue on the visible light spectrum has been proven to suppress melatonin.
Timing is Everything When It Comes To Melatonin
When it comes to Blue Light and healthy melatonin production, the good news is that if we can manage our exposure to it to match the natural light cycles that we experience day and night, the melatonin can be released in our bodies as it should be.
TOP 10 Best Ways Block Blue Light From Screens
The key to blocking Blue Light is know how much you're blocking and "layer it" like sunscreen. --As the sun sets, your eyes need to start getting less and less blue light, so that a good 2-3 hours before sleep- you're not getting much, if any.
1. Eliminate 35% on your Devices
Start by filtering some blue light and digital glare by investing in a Screen Protector that not only protects from scratches but also includes a blue blocking film that goes over your phone, tablet or laptop screen.
2. Filter or Block Around 50% of Blue Light In That's All Around You
You can also try the lighter or clear "blue-blocking" glasses that are offered just about everywhere these days. These manufacturers claim to that they are blocking up to 50% of the higher range of the spectrum- personally, we find the warmer tones make our eyes feel better- you can explore these from our favorite Gunners Felix Gray to Quay,
3. Eliminate up to 75% of Blue Light with Amber glasses
- Certified to Block 75% of blue light in the 400 to 700nm range, these soften and filter some blue light and give your eyes nice relief with amber lenses. This amber tint actually adds clarity and protection and we recommend them especially for kids for all daytime screen use. Many participants study of blue light and insomnia referenced below wore amber glasses two hours before bed and slept better.
4. Eliminate 86% of Blue Light during the day with Orange Tinted glasses
- We like to keep these orange-tinted glasses on desks to use anytime we want to avoid digital blue light and let our eyes relax. The warm tones really help soften screens as well as block a lot of nasty blue light.
5. Eliminate 96% of Blue Light and Protect Eyes and Sleep with Expresso Glasses
- When you need the big guns for almost guaranteed no-effect on melatonin-production and healthy eyes-blue blocking, go for the ultra-dark lens of these blockers. We use them anytime it's dark outside and we're inside under light, watching any screen from TV to YouTube to Hulu or scrolling on our phones. Our go to for a good nights sleep: Coffee tinted lenses
6. Use Software to Adjust the Range Of Blue Light On Your Device
- Install Flux on your Computer Screen-it can change the color temperature of you screen to eliminate some or almost all of the blue-light, but you'll still be exposed to the digital LED lighting that is part of any screen.
- Give Nightshift a whirl on your iPhone--program to come on at 7:00 pm. It gives you the ability to adjust the blue light on the screen to warmer tones. You can set it up to come on automatically at any time. Just like with Flux, you won't eliminate the LED from the screen, but the warmer tones will help with the color of light you're exposed to.
7. For a Good Night's Sleep, Be Mindful of Other Sources of Blue Light In Your Home
- Change bedroom lighting to softer light and ditch the bight night light in favor of warm orange colored light, like a salt-lamp.
- Use screens that are not backlit (like some e-readers). Always try to match the screen brightness to the level of light in the room for less eye strain.This is really great way to decrease eye strain.
- Mom may not approve, but it's actually safer for your eyes to watch TV then read a book on your phone or tablet because it is farther away-plus you're skin benefits- the further you are from a screen. Even better-wear orange or expresso glasses while you watch TV.
- Be mindful of how close your iPhone too- not just because of the blue light--but also your eyes are more likely be harmed by the intense close-up focus. Set yourself evening time limits on small devices. For eye strain, try the 20 20 20 rule that CNET talked about in their How To Avoid Eye Strain Video: every 20 minutes on the computer-find something 20' away and look at it for 20 seconds.
"The most disruptive event in the history of biotime occurred on December 31, 1879 with the invention of the electric light bulb".
Michael Breus, The Power Of When
HOW BLUE LIGHT IS MESSING WITH YOUR WELLNESS
1. Blue Light from Computer Screens Effects Sleep Patterns And Depression
Smartphones and screens emit luminous blue light so you can see the display, even on the sunniest days. However, your brain gets confused by blue light at night, as those azure emissions actually mimic the sun. Makes sense, right?
Blue light suppresses the production of a sleep-regulating hormone known as melatonin. A research project of adults form 37 to 75 showed how Circadian rhythm disruption had a big effect on well-being.
2. Melatonin is a Mighty Hormone
Lack of melatonin has been linked to not only problems with sleep, but inflammation, immune function, and even cancer. Green Med Info has a stunning list of 415 abstracts of Melatonin studies.
Robert M. Sargis MD, PhD explains the basics of how we make and use melatonin in EndocrineWeb:
Located deep in the center of the brain, the pineal gland was once known as the “third eye.” produces melatonin.
- The pineal gland produces melatonin, which helps maintain circadian rhythm and regulate reproductive hormones. Pineal cells and neuroglia cells (which support the pineal cells) mainly comprise the gland.
- The pineal gland secretes a single hormone—melatonin
- Melatonin is special because its secretion is dictated by light.
- Light exposure stops the release of melatonin, and in turn, this helps control your circadian rhythms.
- Melatonin secretion is low during the daylight hours and high during dark periods
We found an entire report linking Melatonin to an impressive array of anti-cancer benefits. Melatonin inhibits the proliferation of a wide range of cancer cell types, as well as triggering cancer cell apoptosis (self-destruction). The hormone also interferes with the new blood supply tumors require for their rapid growth (angiogenesis). It can even help chemotherapy be more affective and lower the toxicity.
3. Sleep and Insomnia: Blue Light Affects Your Beautiful Body's Time Clock
Bright blue light can also affect our circadian rhythms, our internal clock—something that’s being talked about a lot lately as a really important key to our health and well-being. Turns out that bright lights in the evening hours can throw off your body clock, confusing your brain into thinking it’s still daytime.
The best way to prevent the blue light from suppressing your melatonin production or changing your circadian rhythms is to cut back on using your phones, computers or tablets at night. The National Sleep Foundation Recommends powering down all devices 2 hours before bed OR you can try any of these great blue light blocker options Check out the link for curated Blue Blockers in all forms and price ranges.
A 2018 Research Study from Columbia University reported that,
Wearing BB amber lenses for the 2 hours preceding bedtime for one week resulted in significant improvements in sleep, compared to clear lenses, in individuals with insomnia symptoms. Specifically, scores on the PIRS (total and subscales) were reduced in the amber vs. clear lenses condition, indicating a reduction in insomnia severity.
4. Blue Light and Your Reproductive SystemBlue Light will also effect how your reproductive organs work. It's true. The Blue Light effects melatonin production and David continues his tutorial on melatonin this way:
Let's don't take a chance on messing with the "natural" function of our ovaries and testes by messing with our melatonin production. Try and keep any digital screen light exposure to hours and amounts and times that mimic normal and natural daylight hours.
5. Blue Light Affects Metabolism
Oh my. Your phone can cause weight gan and insulin resistance!? By measuring blood glucose and insulin levels scientists determined that exposure to blue light from LED lighting altered metabolic function! Yikes! And, blood levels showed altered glucose metabolism.
Hunger: The 2014 Study
Ivy Cheung, a doctoral candidate in the Neuroscience program at Northwestern University found that a single three-hour exposure to blue-enriched light in the evening acutely impacted hunger and glucose metabolism.
"These results are important because they suggest that manipulating environmental light exposure for humans may represent a novel approach of influencing food intake patterns and metabolism."
So should we be staying away from looking at the phone, computer or even television screen if we're trying to keep our night-time hunger in check? Especially since researchers noticed that just 15 minutes after exposure hunger set in?
Blue Light And Insulin Resistance:
Cheung along with others from Northwestern did a follow up study in 2016:
But more important then Hunger, Researchers Saw This:
"While blue enriched light clearly altered subjective alertness in the evening, the lack of effect on subjective hunger was surprising considering the findings from the previous study showing changes in subjective appetite with morning bright light exposure. . . However repeated daily exposure or exposure in a natural environment (as opposed to a lab setting with controlled food intake and physical activity) may lead to different outcomes more in line with prior field studies.
Major News: Blue Light and Insulin Resistance.
Insulin resistance is a condition we hear a lot about these days. Doctors tell us is about diet, weight management and physical activity. But this study shows a strong correlation between blue light exposure and Insulin resistance:
"The metabolic response to blue-enriched light exposure was quick: with 30 minutes of blue-enriched light exposure onset, HOMA-IR was 30% higher in the morning and 19% higher in the evening compared to dim light exposure. It is plausible that extended or more chronic exposure to blue-enriched light may further impact insulin resistance, given that HOMA-IR is 50-60% higher in the morning with repeated sleep restriction compared to the fully rested state"
Did you catch that? The insulin resistance reaction got much worse when subjects didn't get a good night sleep! Who's getting a good night sleep? Well, chances are Not those who are looking a screens before bed!
6. Love that Melatonin Baby- So Watch That Light For Healthy Sleep and More
Babies produce and secrete melatonin just like their moms and dads. One study showed Mighty Melatonin present in the saliva of babies just 3 weeks old. In another study, researchers noticed that the levels began to show a rhythm when the babies were about 2 months old. At 6 months babies were secreted about one quarter of the melatonin of adults.
Both of these studies were evaluating the development of circadian rhythms in infants. They confirmed melatonin was released (or not) according to the light babies were exposed to.
Natural Light is Best Baby.
"Circadian rhythms appeared much more rapidly in this infant than previously reported; their rapid appearance was probably facilitated by maximal exposure to sunlight . . .
In fact, the study attempted to replicate natural and normal light patterns that existed before artificial light- meaning that when the sun went down--so did the light baby was exposed to.
So mom and dad, as babies develop their circadian rhythm, you can help by keeping their night-times environment as light-free as possible
8. Teens, Sleep, Depressions and Melatonin
The Journal of Childhood Development released the results of an imperative study in the summer of 2017. They focused on the connection of screen exposure(the digital blue light we've been talking about here-)at night and how that affects kids’ willingness to go to bed and their ability to sleep. This makes sense to us at Tech Wellness. Not just because kids are now actively texting, going on social media and having trouble going to bed, but it’s the screens themselves.
Ultimately, the wavelengths of blue light that screens emit, impact their ability to create melatonin—which can have emotional effects as well as keep them from sleeping.
9. Blue Light Glasses and Those Amazing Eyes
Digital eye strain. Just thinking about looking at a brightly lit computer, makes our eyes hurt UGH! We wouldn't stare at a bright sunlit blue horizon for hours on end in the same way, our eyes weren't meant to stare at a blue-light filled screen all day. But that's what we do. And that screen light is not only full of blue light, but LED light is pulsating or flickering- making it hard on our physiology as well. The digital blue light combination of high amounts of energy and the short wavelengths mean our eyes struggle to focus as the blue light scatters.
Eye strain can cause headaches and brain fog among other symptoms.
Our eyes use muscles and like any other muscle in our body and they get tired from over-use. Staring at computers, smart phones and tablets play a major part in your eye exhaustion.
And tired, strained eyes are just the beginning of the digital blue light effects.
Research on blue light and eyes is now revealing a connection to serious vision damage like macular degeneration and even melanoma of the eye.
“It’s toxic. If you shine blue light on retinal, the retinal kills photoreceptor cells as the signaling molecule on the membrane dissolves,” Kasun Ratnayake, a PhD student researcher working in Karunarathne’s cellular photo chemistry group, said. “Photoreceptor cells do not regenerate in the eye. When they’re dead, they’re dead for good.”
Karunarathne introduced retinal molecules to other cell types in the body, such as cancer cells, heart cells and neurons. When exposed to blue light, these cell types died as a result of the combination with retinal. Blue light alone or retinal without blue light had no effect on cells.
“No activity is sparked with green, yellow or red light,” Karunarathne said. “The retinal-generated toxicity by blue light is universal. It can kill any cell type.”
The lab currently is measuring light coming from television, cell phone and tablet screens to get a better understanding of how the cells in the eyes respond to everyday blue light exposure.
It's pretty serious folks.
And, notice that the process happens with any blue light exposure digital or otherwise, so sunglasses are a must- and being diligent about wearing them is even more important than we first thought.
And we really love that next the research group plans to study exposure from all screens. Here at Tech Wellness you'll find us wearing our blue blocking glasses just about any of the time we're on our computers. And absolutely all the time when it's dark outside and we're encountering any blue light source at all.
Moms and Dads, it's super important to make sure you're kids eyes are protected. Get some in-expensive blue light blocking orange glasses for your children to wear daily.
So, let's take care of those peepers!
Block Blue Light With Orange Glasses or REALLY Block Blue Light With Espresso
There have been a couple of studies done on the efficacy of the orange glasses. One in 2014 shows that teenagers who wore orange-tinted glasses a few hours before sleep were significantly sleepier then without the glasses.
We put them to the test in our office after 4 pm (which happens to be the best time to start). Lot’s of team members reported their eyes simply felt more relaxed as they looked at computer screens. I should mention, blue light stimulates your brain—which is a good thing in the morning and afternoon.
Tip: Wear Blue Blockers at Night
The real issue at hand is to avoid the blue light in the evening and at night. Blue light exists in the natural daylight spectrum and is healthy for our bodies--at a "natural" strength, during daylight hours.
We offer these on Tech Wellness. If you want to try the orange glasses, make sure you are getting glasses that have been tested for their ability to block blue light.
For the Sweetest Sleep Watch Out for any Light
This Blue Light has so much power, even closing your eyes won't keep it out--once you're all cuddled in and ready to sleep, make sure to turn all devices off. Research has shown that our eyes can detect blue light, even through closed eyelids—also adding to the repression of melatonin production.
And ditch a bright nightlight. Believing daytime has arrived, your biological clock instructs your pineal gland to immediately cease its production of melatonin. Regardless if you encounter the light on for an hour or for just a few seconds, the effect is the same—and your melatonin pump doesn't turn back on when you flip the light back off. When you turn on a light at night, you immediately send your brain misinformation about the light-dark.
Artificial Blue Light and Your Skin
Research show’s the blue light glow that’s coming from the screen we’re bending over to look at is also affecting that gorgeous face of yours! We all know how sunlight affects our skin—the sunlight spectrum consists of UV, Visible and infrared light. So, in the visible part of the spectrum lies the blue/violet band is what’s known HEV.
Although HEV is part of daylight, we’re getting so much more of it and in focused doses,-now that our world is overcome with tablets, smartphones, computers, and an overall abundance of technology.
Not great because research is showing that screen glow contributes to aging and revs up hyper-pigmentation! Thankfully we can do something about it. Start with less time in front of your screens, and follow with a special skin care product designed to fight the onslaught of the blue glow.
So here's how I deal with Screens and Digital blue light in my daily life. I've re-set my circadian rhythm so that I automatically wake (without an alarm clock) every morning at 7:15. I try to get an hour of natural light sometime through out the day. I use an our Ocushield screen protector because I like that it protects my skin, eye stain and a bit of the blue light, then after 4:00 in the winter and 6 in the summer, I'll grab orange glasses when I look at a screen. Then at home, with TV or scrolling, I LOVE my dark espresso glasses. They make my eyes feel so relaxed.
Throughout the day, I exercise the heallty screen habits my optometetrist shared with me as I discussed the Tech Wellness balance-with-technology mission.
- My computer monitor is nice and big and is about 2 feet from my eyes and is positioned so that when I look straight ahead--the top of the monitor is even with my eyes.
- The monitor is angled back very slightly becuase if I gaze down just 15 degrees my eye muscles are more relaxed.
- I"m all about the 20-20-2 minute rule. Every twenty minutes I take my eyes off the screen and look 20' away for 2 minutes--experts say just 20 seconds of looking away is all that's needed to reduce eye strain--but I like to treat myself and think of 2 things I'm thankful for (right now, I'm thankful that you're here)
- I make it a point to adjust my computer screen brightness to the brightness of the light in the room. I LOVE natural light and turn off any flourescent lights I see( always) but even LED's or nice halogen lights can be annoying and make it hard for my eyes to adjust to the screen. I have a beautiful view of an adorable downtown street out my office window, but when the sun goes down and I stare right at the glare just past my computer- time for glasses or to call it a day.
Many of these ideas are part of the American Optometric Association's paper on The Effects of Computer Use on Eye Health and Vision
I would love to hear how you deal with the blue light. One of our readers wrote in to share this:
Dr. Merry from a unique research site of doctors and scientists that analyzes the latest scientific research did a deep dive on Blue Blockers and said this:
". . . I think that there is some connection between blue blockers and sleep promotion in select groups, though further work is needed to fully understand this"
They looked at lots of research and found that there needs to be more clinical trials like the one we talk about from Columbia University in the Blue Light and Sleep section above. Yes, more really clinical trials encompassing EMF, Blue Light and Screen Time would be so welcomed and we will be happy to include them in our Research section to help you decide what's best for you and your family.
As always, if you have any ideas, please share them with us. Also, if you found this information helpful, please share it with a friend.