This is a sponsored post by Essilor of America, a supporter of NewGradOptometry & new graduate optometrists! 😎
Blue light is all around us. It is present outdoors and indoors, in different forms, and at various wavelengths. Blue light rays, which are on the opposite end of the visible light spectrum, have short wavelengths and high energy, and are referred to as blue-violet or violet light. Just beyond the blue light spectrum rests ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Blue light generally is defined as visible light ranging from 380 to 500 nm.
There has been a lot of research and literature investigating what is called Harmful Blue Light.* While some frequencies of blue light are beneficial, others can be potentially harmful to our eyes with continuous exposure over time. This Harmful Blue Light has been implicated as a potential contributor to retinal disease, lenticular changes, and ocular surface disorders.
* Harmful Blue Light is the blue-violet wavelengths (415-455 nm) on the light spectrum believed most toxic to retinal cells.
Dangers of Blue Light
While there is not any definitive research yet on just how much blue light exposure could be considered damaging, once again, the concern is increased compounding exposure over time.
Recent research suggests a potential link between blue light exposure and the risk of age-related macular degeneration.1 The 2006 study “Age-related maculopathy and the impact of blue light hazard” concluded that blue light is 50 to 80 times more efficient in manifesting retinal photoreceptor death than green light.2
Essilor and the Paris Vision Institute did a study that exposed porcine retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells to distinct ranges of light, reproducing the physiological exposure to sunlight of the 40-year-old eye. The study found that blue-violet light (wavelengths between 415nm – 455nm) had the highest phototoxic effect on the cells. Further research demonstrated retinal cell death rate decreased by 25% when there was a 20% cut out of blue-violet light.3
Between our backlit devices—tablets and laptops, desktop computers and televisions, and of course the ubiquitous smartphone—and artificial lighting, whether it’s fluorescent or LED, we’re exposed to blue light from morning to night.
Ocular pathology aside, there are other possible health issues stemming from Harmful Blue Light exposure such as digital eye strain. High energy blue light flickers more than other wavelengths, causing intense glare that leads to eye strain and fatigue.4 With the increasing dependence of computer use, this constant exposure to glare could lead to symptoms of dry eye, headaches, and general discomfort.
One of the most discussed effects of blue light overexposure is how it disrupts sleep cycles. Blue Light not only keeps us awake, but can even prevent us from entering REM sleep, and with overexposure to blue wavelengths, our bodies can produce less melatonin. Since melatonin not only regulates sleep cycles, but also mood, this can result in depression and insomnia.5
What does all of this mean for the ocular health and well-being of our patients and the current generation of adolescents who are immersed in digital devices at such an early age?
Since optometrists are increasingly called on to provide holistic care for ocular health, it’s important to discuss with our patients how their exposure to blue light can impact their general well-being as well as their ocular health!
Sources of Blue Light
Sunlight is the main source of blue light, but there are also many artificial sources of blue light:
- Fluorescent and LED lights
- Computer displays
- Other digital devices
While the amount of blue light emitted by electronic devices is minuscule compared to that of the sun, the increasing amount of time people are spending on digital devices (particularly at younger ages) has led to concern that this compounding increase in exposure to Harmful Blue Light over time, might have potential consequences to ocular health.
Technological development and dependence is only increasing, so eyecare providers and the ophthalmic industry must keep up, and continue to expand and build upon what we can offer patients and consumers.
Solutions to Harmful Blue Light
Fortunately, Essilor has been pushing the boundaries of what is possible in ophthalmic lens technology and reimaging how to meet patients’ needs. As a result, the company has developed Essential Blue SeriesTM lenses.
Not all blue light is bad, which is why blocking all wavelengths in the blue spectrum is not an ideal solution. Blue-turquoise light at 480 nm (±15 nm) is known to help regulate our body’s sleep cycle, and studies have shown that some blue light exposure is essential in memory and cognitive function and boosts alertness.5
Check out other options when it comes to blue light blocking lenses and filters.
Essilor’s Essential Blue SeriesTM lenses help filter out Harmful Blue Light while letting beneficial blue light through the lens. They offer up to 3X more protection from Harmful Blue Light than a standard clear lens+, while allowing Beneficial Blue Light—those blue-turquoise wavelengths in the 465-495nm range—to pass through the lens. Standard clear lenses filter approximately 5% of Harmful Blue Light.
But what’s really great about the Essential Blue SeriesTM lenses? Unlike other blue-light filtering lenses, Essential Blue SeriesTM lenses do not have a visible color tint. Essilor’s lenses have superior clarity, with specific technology to neutralize the yellow tint that is associated with blue light absorption. With Essential Blue SeriesTM lenses, your patients’ vision will be both clear and protected, while their lenses more aesthetically pleasing!
These lenses can be paired with any of Essilor’s Varilux® lenses or progressive lens products, and can also be paired with Crizal® Prevencia®, which filters an additional 10% of Harmful Blue Light, for extra protection.
Read the complete guide to understanding Crizal® Prevencia.®
With Essential Blue SeriesTM lenses, Essilor is expanding the blue light protection to their full suite of lens offerings, which means that your patients with standard, single-vision lenses can enjoy blue light protection as well.
Why Offer Blue Light Blocking Lenses?
Patients are becoming increasingly more interested in blue light and Harmful Blue Light protection. The technology industry has already been making efforts in this realm such as Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Samsung and others, with blue filtering functionality like “Apple's Night Shift®” and “Google Pixel™ Night Light” which is only increasing blue light awareness in the public.
Surveys show that approximately 35% of consumers are already aware of the potential dangers of Harmful Blue Light6,7, and are seeking protection based on online search trends. Google search for “blue light glasses” has been increasing over the last few years.
As awareness and desire increases in consumers and our patients, we need to be prepared to offer solutions. With Essential Blue SeriesTM lenses, now we can offer every patient a clear lens solution that helps filter out Harmful Blue Light while letting in Beneficial Blue Light.
- Dillon, James, et al., Transmission of light to the aging human retina: possible implications for age related macular degeneration, Experimental Eye Research Volume 79, Issue 6, December 2004, Pages 753-75. doi:10.1016/j.exer.2004.06.025
- Age-related maculopathy and the impact of blue light hazard. Acta Ophthalmol Scand. 2006 Feb;84(1):4-15. Algvere PV1, Marshall J, Seregard S. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16445433
- Smick K, Villete T, Boulton ME, et al. Essilor of America. Blue light hazard: New knowledge, new approaches to maintaining ocular health. www.crizalusa.com/content/dam/crizal/us/en/pdf/blue-light/Blue-Light-Roundtable_White-Paper.pdf. 2013. Accessed March 18, 2016.
- Ide, T, et al. “Effect of Blue Light-Reducing Eye Glasses on Critical Flicker Frequency.” Asia-Pacific Journal of Ophthalmology (Philadelphia, Pa.)., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 4 Apr. 2015, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26065349.
- 5. Harvard Health Publishing. “Blue Light Has a Dark Side.” Harvard Health, 30 Dec. 2017, www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side.
- BCT2 Offer Take Rate Consumer Topline Report, Dec 2015.
- Bufete, Tercius. “Sleep Better By Using a Blue Light Filter on Your Phone or Computer.” Consumer Reports, 17 May 2017, www.consumerreports.org/sleeping/blue-light-filter-on-phone-computer-sleep-better/.