What Is Blue Light?
Blue light is all around us and, in moderation, can be beneficial to us. It exists naturally in our environment from the sun, regulating our circadian rhythm and telling our body when it is time to wake up and time to go to sleep. Our eyes have been designed to handle the energy levels of the sun but even with this source of natural blue light we need extra protection from sunglasses.
In our technology-driven world our eyes are exposed to more blue light than ever before from artifical light sources, including digital screens like your smartphone, tablet or computer. Smartphones emit the highest levels of blue light compared to other devices. A recent study by Ernst & Young revealed that Australians spend an average of 10 hours per day looking at a digital screen.
Blue light is also known as high energy visible blue light (HEV) and has a wavelength of between 380nm and 500nm making it one of the shortest, high energy wavelengths. Recent studies have shown that prolonged exposure to the blue violet light (400nm – 440nm) can cause serious damage to our eyes.
The Dangers of Blue Light
Studies have shown that prolonged exposure to artificial blue light from digital screens may have detrimental effects on our health, including digital eye strain, sleeping disorders, retinal damage and an increased risk of macular degeneration – the leading cause of blindness in industrial nations.
Digital Eye Strain
Also called Computer Vision Syndrome, digital eye strain is defined as ‘physical discomfort felt after two or more hours in front of a digital screen’ and symptoms include dry or itchy eyes, loss of focus, blurry vision or fatigue from looking at a digital screen. Prolonged exposure to artificial blue light can also cause headaches and neck pain. Small type, screen glare and pixelated images on screens force our eyes to work harder in order to focus which is uncomfortable. Blue light penetrates to the back of the eye, triggering nerves that cause discomfort and eye strain – leading to permanent damage to the eye.
Blue Light And Sleep
Blue light can also lead to other forms of fatigue beyond eye strain. Blue light during the day is beneficial because it boosts attention, reaction times and mood. It also controls our circadian rhythms, telling us when to stay awake and when to go to sleep. In the hypothalamus of the brain there are cells known as the suprachiasmatic nucleus. These cells are activated by blue light and during the day time when there is a lot of blue light from the sun, the suprachiasmatic nucleus tells the pineal gland not to produce much melatonin so we can stay awake. However at night, we need to release melatonin in order to fall asleep.
If we are looking at screens at night-time, the artifical blue light tricks our brain into thinking it is still daytime and makes falling asleep more difficult. Circadian disruption can also lead to other more serious side effects, including an increase in obesity and depression. Blue light at night is a major factor in the increasing number of sleep problems in our society. In a 2016 report by The Vision Council, USA, 80% of people reported using digital devices in the hours before going to sleep.
Blue Light and Children
Children today grow up surrounded by digital devices and screens even make up a major part of their learning at school. This means that children are heavily exposed to blue light from a very young age when their eyes are still developing. This puts them at even greater risk of potential long-term damage.
Unlike adults, children don’t have pigments in their eyes to provide some protection so the blue light can pass straight through to the retina and the damage may be cumulative. Most damage from blue light exposure occurs before children reach the age of 20.
Getting enough sleep and a good quality of sleep is extremely important for childrens’ development so exposure to artificial blue light before bedtime should be avoided.
How Do Blue Light Glasses Help?
Blue light glasses work by filtering out the harmful blue violet light in the 400nm – 440nm range while still allowing the good blue light in. Our range of blue light glasses, designed and developed by Sydney-based company Baxter Blue, filter out 50% of the harmful blue light.
The Blue+ lenses in the Baxter Blue glasses help to reduce glare and add contrast to define characters on your screen to alleviate digital strain.
Designed to be worn all day long, the Baxter Blue blue light glasses not only protect your eyes but look super stylish too. Shop the range here.
What If I Already Wear Glasses?
Our range of blue light glasses are non-prescription, however we do offer reading magnification up to +2.0. Speak to your optometrist if you already wear glasses. Most prescription glasses can now be fitted with a blue light filtering lens to protect your eyes from artifical blue light.
What Else Can I Do To Protect My Eyes?
In addition to using blue light glasses to protect your eyes, there are some simple tips to help reduce your exposure to blue light and alleviate the strain on your eyes. We suggest you adopt the 20-20-20 rule: for every 20 minutes of screen time you should look at something 20 feet (6 metres) away for 20 seconds.
When scrolling through your phone, keep the screen at arms length away from you rather than up close to your face.
To protect your sleep, adopt a new nightly routine and switch off all screens and sources of artificial blue light at least one hour before bedtime.
All the glasses have the the size indicated in the style dropdown. For example, 45/21/140 – these sizes are the lens width (45mm), the nose bridge (21mm) and the arm length (140mm). If you look on a pair of your current glasses or sunglasses these measurements will be indicated on the inside of the arms of your glasses.
How do I know what size will fit my child?
The ‘kids’ glasses are unisex and recommended for kids 7 – 13 years of age. For children over the age of 13 we would recommend glasses from ther Adults range.