‘Blue light’ has recently stirred significant debate among the public and medical experts alike. Although blue light is nothing new, recent discussion highlights the potentially damaging effects on our eyes and its consequences on our daily life, including sporting activity. 

This article will clearly explain what blue light is, how it could be affecting your health and how you can protect yourself, especially during sports participation.

What Is Blue Light?

In addition to invisible ultraviolet radiation, the sun emits visible light rays made from different colors and shades – including red, orange, yellow, green and blue.

Each color has a different wavelength and amount of energy. Blue light has the shortest wavelength and highest energy level for visible light rays.

The range of the visible spectrum is 380-780 nanometers (nm). Ultraviolet light (UV) lies below this range, and infrared light (IR) also lies below this range. Blue light is included in the range of 400-465 nm, the spectrum of the most dangerous rays is between 415-455 nm.

Most of interactions with blue light occur naturally. Riding your bike, running through the local field or playing basketball with friends; your eyes will face blue light and, in moderation, that’s fine. Blue light can keep our focus sharp during sporting activity and is also an integral part of the cycle of sleep-wake.

However, the rise in personal technology over the past 20 years has artificially increased our exposure to these high energy rays. High levels of blue light are emitted by digital devices with screens and LED and CFL and other lighting equipment.

This includes the tablets, smartphones, computers, and LED bulbs we are constantly focused on throughout the day. Furthermore, the growing use of technology in sport could see further exposure even during our leisure activities.

How Does Blue Light Affect You?

Blue light is the major contributor to digital eye strain. Any sportsperson who has experienced eye strain will rightly bemoan the irritation and discomfort that it causes, leading to watery or dry eyes and a lack of focus.

Prolonged exposure to blue light causes discomfort to the retina because the rays make contact with your eyes in a ‘scattered’ nature to their short and high energy wavelengths. Certain wavelengths of blue light also reportedly lead to the development of age-related macular degeneration.

Furthermore, recent studies suggest blue light directly affects our circadian rhythm, which controls when we sleep and wake up.  Our body’s natural mechanism uses blue light to recognize that we should be awake during the daytime and asleep once it gets dark.  

Throughout daylight hours, blue wavelengths are helpful for keeping us alert, increasing focus, improve mood and reaction time. However, during the night, blue light wavelengths can stop us from sleeping by inhibiting melatonin. This is the natural hormone that encourages the body to sleep.

Damaging effects of blue light on eyes

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) 

Excessive blue light exposure is not good for our eyes, potentially leading to a gradual, life-long loss of vision.

Some health experts suggest that blue light exposure also contributes to age-related macular degeneration, the permanent damage of the eye. This leads to the destruction of the cells in the center of the retina, which ultimately leads to vision loss.  This condition is common in people over 60. However, some studies suggest it can also happen sooner with the increased exposure of blue light.

Sleep deprivation

According to various research studies, blue light has a short wavelength that restricts the production of melatonin because the body is more sensitive to blue light. Some other research studies explain that blue wavelengths suppress brainwaves delta that induces sleep and increase alpha wavelengths that create alertness. Unfortunately, less sleeps inhibits athletic performance, according to the Sleep Foundation, by increasing feelings of fatigue, low energy and chance of injury.

Eyestrain

Too much exposure to blue light is the most common culprit for digital eye strain. Mostly it happens when you watch too long at a monitor. Blurred vision, nausea, dry eyes, neck, and back pain, with bloodshot, can cause eye strain. Eye strain is an uncomfortable feeling that stops you from working or having fun. Suddenly catching a football or using tennis racket can become 10x harder, as you cannot help but rub your eyes to stop the discomfort.

Depression

Largely due to the onset of sleep deprivation, blue light can also lead to problems related to mental health, such as depression is caused by many factors. Some competitive and recreational sports competitors, who have experienced depression, report feeling a lack of motivation, focus and enjoyment for their favorite sporting activity.

Stephen Lockley, a Harvard sleep researcher, claims prolonged exposure to blue light at night – from using phones and laptops in bed - is part of the reason so many people don't get enough sleep. He, and other researchers, link short sleep to increased risk for depression, as well as diabetes and cardiovascular problems.

Protection of Eyes from Blue Light

The following are the ways and methods you can use to reduce the exposure to blue light.

Screen time: 

Make a habit to taking frequent breaks during work just to decrease the amount of time you spent in front of the screen.

Screen Filters:

You can use screen filters to protect your eyes from smartphones, computers, and tablets. These dark screen covers reduce the amount of blue light emitted from these devices that could reach our eyes ' retina.

Anti-reflective lenses:

These lenses increase the contrast and reduce the glare and also restrict the blue light from digital devices and blue light.

Blue light filter glasses:

A Sight for Sport Eyes has blue light coatings that can be added to most lenses or lenses. Also, transitions and brown-based lenses like polarized brown or brown tint have blue light protection built directly into the lenses.

Blue light filter glasses are prepared from the special combination of lens material, and some distinctive coating applied to the lenses. These lenses reflect part of the blue light away from the eyes. Blue light filter glasses are sunglasses or eyeglasses that can absorb a large amount of blue light.

Blue light blocking glasses can relieve digital eye strain, decrease macular degeneration risk, decrease glare, and increase visual clarity. Just be sure that your blinding glasses with blue light do not block useful blue-turquoise light.

Buy your blue light-blocking sports eyewear from A Sight for Sport Eyes.