Today’s children are incredibly tech savvy! They know exactly how to use computers, cell phones, iPads and electronic toys. And some children almost always have some device by their side. This is great for their safety – with their phones and iWatches they can easily get in touch with us if anything goes wrong. Such accessibility to technology has allowed our little ones to quench their curiosity, expand their knowledge and express their passions. However, these same electronic devices are not so good for their eye health. This is all due to blue light.
Many people have heard about it before, but it’s not common for people to learn more about it. Therefore, our kids’ eye doctor has taken it upon herself to shed light on this subject. In this article we will explain what blue light is and how our eyes process it.
Blue Light: Background
Sunlight is made up of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet light – like the rainbow. When these lights of different wavelengths and energy levels are combined, they appear as white light. Blue light rays have shorter wavelengths and more energy compared to the brighter colours. Light that appears white can have a large blue component.
The sunlight is the largest source of blue light. Blue light is beneficial as it is crucial for setting circadian rhythms (body’s natural wake and sleep cycle), boosting attention and mood, and allowing for healthy eye and vision development. However, most of the light we are exposed to comes from digital devices and white-light LEDs (peak blue wavelength emission of 400-490nm). Everyday sources of the blue light include:
- Fluorescent light
- CFL (Compound Fluorescent Light) bulbs
- LED light
- Flat screen LED televisions
- Computer monitors, smartphones and tablet screens
The amount of blue light our children are exposed to from screens is relatively small, however prolonged exposure at close proximity can cause problems. And since children’s eyes are more sensitive and absorb more blue light than adults, it is a serious concern for parents and our kids’ eye doctor.
Now that we all understand what blue light is and where it comes from, let’s discuss how our eyes process blue light.
Blue Light vs. The Eye
As with most light rays, blue light passes through the cornea (outer transparent layer) and the lens of the eye to reach the retina (back wall of the eye). The retina contains two types of photoreceptors, rods and cones.The rods, which make up the majority, rely on a protein called Rhodopsin. When light hits the retina, it slightly changes its shape allowing Rhodopsin to move out of the way and continue the progression of light.
A study found that exposure to blue light triggers a distortion in the eye, which is followed by an increase in oxidative damage and calcium levels in the cells. The researcher then goes to say that “if you shine blue light on retinal, the retinal kills photoreceptor cells as the signaling molecule on the membrane dissolves.” However, the American Academy of Ophthalmology explains that more research is needed to clarify these results.
As we have explained in “All you need to know about UV rays”, sunlight damages our eyes and vision. Due to the properties of blue light (shorter wavelengths and high energy) and its consistent presence in our everyday lives, our pediatric optometrist emphasizes the importance of protecting your children’s eyes from it.
In Part 2 of this article series we will investigate the conditions that excessive exposure to blue light can lead to and the best ways to protect your children’s eyes.
About our Pediatric Optometrist in Livingston!
Our exceptional doctors, Amy Lambert, MD, and Rachel Bloom, MD, are both board certified pediatric ophthalmologists. Dr. Lambert, the founder of Pediatric Eye Associates, LLc, is also a board certified strabismus surgeon, and Dr. Bloom is additionally fellowship trained.
Our pediatric eye doctors are experts at meeting your children’s eye and visual needs. We pride ourselves with the results we achieve with our patients and we believe the key is not just our medical expertise, but also attitude and patience with the children. Our motto is “to provide the highest quality eye care for children in a setting that is comfortable and reassuring.”
We understand that you will have many questions about our Livingston ophthalmologist, so if any of them are still unanswered, please refer to our FAQs page, or contact us. You can get in touch with us by:
- Visiting our practice
22 Old Short Hills Rd. Lower Level-1,Livingston, New Jersey 07039
Open hours: Monday – Friday 9:00 – 17:00
- Calling us on 973-422-1230
- Submitting the enquiry form on our contact us page
- Checking our facebook page – Pediatric Eye Associates, LLC
The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.