During an era of social isolation, most of us are spending more time in front of screens than ever. What are the effects of prolonged blue light exposure, and how can it impact us on a cellular level?
Blue light: Natural vs. artificial sources.
While the majority of American citizens continue to remain at home, many pass the time interacting with technology. But it’s crucial to monitor your screen time. Excessively interacting with screens gives you an unhealthy amount of blue light exposure that could damage your cells.
Blue light is naturally emitted by the sun, and in healthy doses, exposure to blue light is good for us.
Basking in this type of high energy contributes to increased alertness, better memory and mood, and improved cognitive function. It also helps regulate our circadian rhythm, keeping our sleep and wakefulness cycle balanced.
But increasing our exposure by engaging too often with man-made sources of blue light can create a slew of problems, most notably for our eye health.
Blue light overexposure causes retinal and hormonal damage.
Blue light can penetrate through to our retina, the inner lining at the back of our eyes. Too much of it can harm the light-sensitive cells contained inside. If you consistently overexpose yourself to blue light, your eyes will experience some degree of macular degeneration.
Macular degeneration is a medical term for the deterioration of the central portion of the retina known as the macula.
The macula allows us to focus our vision, controls our ability to drive and read, and enables us to register faces, colors, and objects in detail.
When the macula deteriorates to the point of degeneration, it can eventually lead to serious problems like irreversible blindness. And for those who’ve grown accustomed to blue light exposure later at night, the frenzied level of macular activity can cause sleep problems and daytime fatigue.
Multiple studies have surveyed the negative impact of blue light exposure, including an extensive study published in the International Journal of Ophthalmology that confirms blue light’s power to disrupt normal cell activity within the eye, creating vision disorder and damage over time.
Aside from macular degeneration, many other health impairment issues are linked directly to blue light overexposure. These include the development of cataracts, the inhibition of melatonin secretion, and enhanced adrenocortical hormone production, which destroys hormonal balance and adversely affects sleep quality.
How much exposure is ‘too much’?
Though defining the amount of exposure time considered to be excessive is a complex matter still under active study, there are a few telltale signs you can look out for. The most common sign of blue light overexposure is called digital eye strain, which encompasses symptoms like dry, irritated eyes, blurred or double vision, eye twitching, visual fatigue, and headaches.
Minimizing blue light’s impact on our cellular health.
Because blue light comes in short, high energy wavelengths, it scatters more easily and is more difficult to focus on than other forms of light. The eye generally perceives blue light emitted by technological screens as a kind of confusing visual ‘noise’ that reduces contrast, leading over time to continual strain.
Minimizing screen time is our best shot at preserving our eyes. However, it’s important to be conscientious of our cellular health as well when we think about our well-being. After all, the damage from blue light exposure occurs on the cellular level.
Paying attention to cellular care.
Our cellular health serves as the foundation of our body. It’s easy to forget that our actions affect us even on a microscopic scale. If you haven’t done so already, commit to a cellular care routine consisting of quality cellular nutrients to provide yourself with a more holistic approach to good health.
Specific micronutrients like lutein, an antioxidant present in green leafy vegetables and found in high concentrations in the retina and macula, are excellent for eye care. However, more encompassing nutrients, like mitochondrial supplements are also important as they support a pivotal organelle found in all of your cells: the mitochondria. Complex organs like the eye have thousands of mitochondria, all requiring proper nourishment to keep your eyes functioning properly.