There is a lot of information out there about the harmful effects of blue light. Let me clarify something here. Blue light from sunlight is pure and very valuable to man. Daily exposure to blue light can do your health immense good. The problem is blue light from your digital devices.
Excessive exposure to our digital screens and other installations using blue light can be detrimental to your wellbeing.
Myriad studies suggest that about 60% of human beings spend 6+ hours daily in front of digital devices. Needless to say, most of us, executives are right in this mix, spending a majority of our working time staring at screens. The best news is that there are ways to protect from harmful effects of blue light.
Let me take you through some of these beneficial and harmful effects of blue light.
Beneficial Effects of Blue Light on Health
Blue light is literary all around us. Its main source is the sun but you can find artificial blue light in dozens of your home and office devices.
Exposing your body to blue light daily can help various aspects of your health.
Here are the many benefits:
1. Effects of Blue Light on Alertness
According to Harvard Medical School, you’re likely to remain highly alert during the day when you interact with blue light wavelengths from electronics or overhead lights early in the morning.
This can be hugely beneficial especially during days where you’re handling tasks that require utmost alertness.
Basking in sunlight can also produce the same effect.
2. Effects of Blue Light on Reaction
In the meantime, perhaps because it activates your noradrenergic system (a system of brain neurons that helps the release of essential chemicals), blue light as well helps you react faster to various stimuli.
For instance, you may be able to offer a fast and appropriate comment during an important business meeting.
3. Effects of Blue Light on Cognitive Function
Research has indicated that blue light exposure can enhance cognitive functioning such as boosting your remembrance.
That’s because it causes brain changes in the prefrontal brain section associated with optimal functioning in sensitive settings. This includes roles where memory and quicker decision-making are crucial, like during an important meeting with your team or clients.
4. Effects of Blue Light on Mood
Some studies have suggested that blue light has a clear positive impact on one’s mood. That’s because contact with projected blue light induces the release of your happy hormones such as endorphins by your brain.
This helps regulate mood disorders.
You may hence experience a positive mood even after a terrible event such as after a failed project at work or after arguments with colleagues.
5. Effects of Blue Light on Body Clock
In yet another study, scholars found blue light helpful in regulating your circadian rhythm, the 24-hour biological cycle that controls many of our internal functions. This is because some photoreceptor cells in our eyes respond to such wavelengths. For this reason, you can potentially shift your circadian clock by scheduling an exposure.
For example, you can re-align your circadian clocks and hence eliminate jet lag by exposing yourself to artificial blue light sources such as therapy lamps. You can again ease jet lag by relaxing in warm sunshine for at least one hour as soon as you land.
6. Effects of Blue Light on Blood Pressure
Exposure to blue light might also lower your blood pressure and thus your probability of developing heart disease. In their widely covered research, the University of Surrey proposes a whole body exposure for patients with high blood pressure.
Since your job as an executive involves long hours sitting in the office, this can help keep you safe from blood pressure issues.
7. Other Beneficial Effects of Blue Light
Various experts contend that you can also use blue light therapy to tackle several other conditions, including depression, eating disorders, and even age-related dementia.
Harmful effects of blue light
Despite all its goodness, blue light from digital devices has its weaknesses.
While our eyes effectively block UV rays from penetrating to and damaging the retina, they’re not as successful at blocking blue light.
It’s even worse for our children. This is because a kid’s crystalline lens is more permeating for short wavelengths – like blue light – than in adults, making children more susceptible to blue light effects.
In the end, nearly all visible blue light bypasses everything and reaches our retina.
This causes you to gradually encounter some of the blue light’s damaging effects as you accumulate exposure hours.
Here are some of the harmful effects of blue light:
1. Digital Eye Strain
This is the temporary eye discomfort that you sometimes feel after using a digital device for two hours going upwards.
And while you can face this challenge due to other problems, blue light is a common trigger due to its wavelength.
2. Macular degeneration
Because it penetrates through to your retina (hurting the cells in there), acute exposure to blue light may also lead to the age-related macular degeneration. Scaringly, it might cause you to lose vision permanently.
3. Difficulty Falling Asleep
In as much as it can help regularize your circadian rhythm, night exposure to blue light, for example, from your phone, can lower the excretion of melatonin.
As a result, you may extremely struggle to find sleep.
4. Accelerates Blindness
By killing cells in your eye’s retina, blue light speeds up blindness, according to scholars at the University of Toledo.
5. Other Harmful Effects of Blue Light
Some experts have linked your exposure to high-energy lights such as blue light to difficult-to-treat ailments like breast and prostate cancers.
Why Are Executives Especially Affected by the Harmful Effects of Blue Light?
As I mentioned, executives spend the majority of their working time staring at screens. But there are other reasons to consider.
To begin with, many executives prioritize their jobs and career success over their health. Sometimes you even feel helpless considering the persistent performance pressure at work, tough deadlines, make-or-break presentations, and more.
Some of us go as far as carrying work home!
At the same time, hitting your targets and meeting other job expectations becomes a tall order.
In the end, you ail from deteriorating vision, dried eyes, disturbed (or lack) sleep, and constant headaches.
Sadly, a majority of us don’t take these symptoms seriously, and we choose to look the other way instead of acting to lessen your discomfort.
To illustrate, the vision council found that almost 70% of adult users of digital media devices showed symptoms of digital eye strain but made no attempt to reduce their suffering.
The best news is that these are challenges you can defeat. And that’s what we are looking at next.
How To Protect From the Effects of Blue Light of Your Devices?
Since, as I mentioned, our eyes are poor at blocking blue light, you must help them protect you from the various harmful effects of blue light.
The question is:
How can you shield your eyes and your health from the worrying consequences?
Well, you can try the following:
1. Limit Your Exposure Time As Much As Possible
This requires that you spend just your regular working time in front of digital devices. Then, try your best not to take work home. And train to always unplug from your digital devices once home.
To distract from your phone, engage in useful activities like making a small talk with your partner or kids.
2. Learn to Blink Often and To Take Breaks at Intervals.
Perhaps you can use the 20-20-20-20 rule which recommends that you blink 20 times (in a row) after every 20 minutes.
In addition, look away from your screen for 20 seconds every 20 minutes and at an item, 20 feet away.
This helps you ease macular degeneration and eye strain too.
I personally have attached a note on my laptop screen that says “Blink” and I religiously obey it!
3. Avoid Looking at Digital Screens Ahead of Bedtime
Sleeping for at least the recommended 8 hours can dramatically uplift your mood and general wellness. To help the release of melatonin, don’t look at bright screens at least 2-3 hours before bedtime to normalize your sleep.
Moreover, since we are usually tempted to turn our gadgets back on at night, create a habit of charging them in another room.
4. Use Specially-Designed Light Blocking Glasses
Since your eyes aren’t that good at blocking invasive light, give them a helping hand by wearing light blocking glasses.
In an experiment, the University of Toronto discovered that those who typically wear glasses with blue light wavelengths blocking technology during night shifts had more melatonin than participants who didn’t.
Other studies have realized that short wavelengths subdue delta brainwaves, thus stimulating sleep, and invigorate alpha wavelengths, which swell your alertness.
5. Activate Blue Light Filtering of Your Digital Devices
Most of the smart devices manufacturers are these days including a handy blue light filtering option.
They coin distinctive names so you might have to visit your device maker’s website for confirmation and activation steps.
You can always use a third-party app if you’re unlucky to own a smartphone without the tool or you find the installed one limited.
The blue light lighting technology has essentially brought a mixed bag of results to humankind.
On one side, you can find artificial blue light in dozens of your home and office devices. Blue light is also hugely beneficial as far as mood disorders, mental alertness, and memory sharpness is concerned.
But excessive exposure to our digital screens and other installations using blue light can be detrimental to your wellbeing.
Luckily, there are solutions to help you benefit while remaining safe abound.
As we saw, avoid your digital screens just before sleep time and use aids such as light blocking glasses.
Furthermore, follow the 20-20-20-20 blinking rule at work and activate the blue light filtering tool on your devices.