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Why blue light isn’t a bright idea

By DR. KAYCEE REYES

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How do you spend your time nowadays? The ongoing health crisis has changed our daily routines. We may have found ourselves spending more time on our cellphones, tablets, televisions, and laptops as we cope with this new normal.

Fortunately, the world really is in the control of our fingertips, where we can watch, see, learn, and do almost anything with just a click. While technology can offer this convenience, it isn’t always safe. Blue light, emitted by the sun and electronic devices, may affect how one ages, from our eyes, our skin, our mood, and reportedly, even our lifespan. As we continue to stay home, you might want to reconsider your daily habits, including your screen time.

Blue light is not all bad. Blue light, or high-energy visible light (HEV), is part of the spectrum of light that varies in strength and wavelength where shorter wavelengths emit stronger energy, and vice versa. Blue light has a shorter wavelength, thus emitting stronger energy. It can be found by just looking around you—natural blue light that comes from the sun, and artificial blue light that comes from LEDs used in a lot of electronic gadgets and lighting devices.

In healthy doses, blue light can regulate the circadian rhythm, improve mood and alertness, and may also help in memory. But too much of it can cause the opposite: trouble sleeping, digital eye strain, skin problems such as premature aging and hyperpigmentation, a greater risk for health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, macular degeneration, depression, and possibly, even our lifespan.

A study performed on flies, Drosophila melanogaster, with its genetic similarity to mammals, revealed that flies exposed to blue light, as compared to those in complete darkness or those with exposure to light but with blue wavelengths filtered out, accelerated aging and had damage to their brain neurons, retina, and their lifespans became significantly shorter than the others. And while further studies are needed to confirm this correlation, this leads us to question if the same outcome may be expected of humans under the same conditions.

Unfortunately, a lot of us may fall into chronic doses of blue light, and we might not even know it. Currently, 60 percent of the global population is on the web and, on average, the world spends six hours and 43 minutes online every day, according to a 2020 report by Hootsuite and We Are Social, social management platforms that provide insights on internet usage and online statistics. In fact, the report also reveals that Filipinos are the heaviest internet users in the world, averaging nine hours and 45 minutes every day. Given these statistics, it is alarming how much blue light might be affecting our health.

So what can we do? For your skin, wear your sunscreen even when indoors. Mineral sunscreens, or those that contain iron oxide, may help specifically as it can protect against visible light. Products with vitamin C may help protect your skin from blue light damage as well.

At home, you can regulate your exposure by maximizing the use of natural lighting or changing your lightbulbs to warmer light-emitting colors. Wearing blue light filter glasses is also recommended. Taking breaks in between device usage can also help avoid dryness and eye strain.

Adjusting your screen settings into night mode, and setting a time at night to stop using any electronic device can also help avoid disruptions on your sleeping patterns. The good news is, we do not have to stop using our devices altogether. We just have to be mindful of how much we spend our time online as it can also affect our health.


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://lifestyle.mb.com.ph/2020/04/29/why-blue-light-isnt-a-bright-idea/)

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