Mar 22, 2022

Blue Light and the Macula

By: Joshua Mali, M.D.

What is Light?

Light can at its core be explained as radiation visible to the human eye. However, there are lots of lights not visible to the eye, this is because they fall on the non-visible part of the Electromagnetic Radiation.  Examples of these would be X-Rays, Microwave waves, and of course Ultraviolet Light.


What is so special about blue light?


The reason blue light has been discussed across all parts of the world is because it sits very close to the ultraviolet part of the electromagnetic spectrum. These wavelengths are very short in length and carry a lot more energy in them.


Where Does Blue Light Come From?


The biggest source of blue light is unsurprisingly the Sun, but the next biggest source of blue light are digital devices, such as phones, tablets, and LED lights. As technology has advanced the amount of blue light we are exposed to has also increased.


Blue Light & The Macula


Short-wavelength light, such as blue light, can cause photochemical damage to cells and their DNA, therefore every time you are exposed to blue light your cells/tissues are at risk of being damaged, leading to cell death which induces retinal damage in the eye. Every minute you spend exposing your eyes to blue light increases the chances that you will do damage to your eye. In our eyes, we have natural sunglasses that help block some of the blue light entering our eyes. This is done by the macula pigments in our eyes, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which are antioxidants that work by neutralizing free radicals created by blue light.


Increasing Pigment at the Macula


We can help top up the body’s ability by increasing the amount of lutein and zeaxanthin in our body. This can be done by increasing the amount of dark and brightly colored vegetables and fruits in our diet. These would include fruits and vegetables such as kale, spinach, broccoli, red peppers, carrots, and sweetcorn. Time to get the blender out to make some delicious smoothies and eat the rainbow!


Blue light and the body


Having too many oxidants in the body can lead to damaged cells contributing to aging and leading to the progression of diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.  It is important to recognize that despite the bad rap that blue light gets, blue light is essential for good health as well. Blue light boosts alertness, helps memory and cognitive function, and elevates mood. The biggest thing is that it regulates circadian rhythm – the body’s natural wake and sleep cycle.


Physical Aids Protect Yourself from Blue Light


The other ways to protect yourself from blue light would be to have a form of Blue Light protection, whether it be a blue light screen protector on your digital devices, or blue light blocking glasses. As convenient as it is to read on an iPad, why not pick up the actual book, feel the pages in your fingers and go back to falling in love with reading again?


Blue light is produced by light sources such as light bulbs in the household. Using lights that have a lower kelvin rating, e.g., 2700k will reduce the amount of blue light in the work environment and home space. This can be done by introducing an Oculamp into your study and as a bedside lamp. Reducing blue light decreases the light that is scattered most, decreasing glare and increasing contrast, thereby improving image quality and reducing eye fatigue.


The Oculamp is a blue light lamp that helps to keep your circadian rhythms in pattern by controlling the amount of blue light is given off. This is by producing a calm white light when working for long periods of time, a night mode to help you unwind in the evening and a cool white, super-bright light when it is important to have the space at its bright


Another simple way would be to reduce the amount of time in front of digital devices. This can be achieved by using blue light-blocking screen protectors and glasses, which are FDA-certified Ocushield products.


To find out more about how Ocushield and their FDA registered blue light screen protectors and glasses can help your patients improve their ocular health, please visit www.ocushield.com


Joshua Mali, MD, is a board-certified ophthalmologist and award-winning vitreoretinal

surgeon at The Eye Associates, a private multi-specialty ophthalmology practice in

Sarasota, Florida. He is the Retina Medical Director of the Macular Degeneration

Association (MDA). He is also the Founder & CEO of Mali Enterprises (www.malienterprises.org).

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