Ask Answers: Everything You Need to Know About Blue Light (and Blue Light-Filtering Glasses)
If you’re anything like us, you’re probably spending even more time in front of screens while sheltering in place, and your new habits may stick, even after the restrictions are lifted. Phones, TV screens, computers — you name it. While these gadgets help us get work done and provide great ways to spend our time while we’re social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, it also means we’re being exposed to more blue light.
For beach-goers, experts always recommend a healthy coating of sunscreen to protect the skin from those pesky ultraviolet (UV) rays, but sunlight contains more than just UV light. In fact, it’s made up of red, green, yellow, blue and orange light rays, which combine to create "white light" (a.k.a. sunlight). If you haven’t sat through a high school science class in a while, no worries. We’ll break down the important stuff — without getting too scientific.
What Exactly Is Blue Light?
As the name suggests, visible light can be seen by the human eye, and each ray reflects a particular color. The color of a given ray depends on the ray’s wavelength (see the graphic below) — or the distance between successive crests of a wave. (Side note: This means that objects get their colors through the wavelengths of the light that are reflected from them. Trust us — don’t think too hard about it. Things get trippy.)
How Does Blue Light Impact Your Health?
So, what about blue light — the visible rays that are a few notches below harmful UV rays? Well, approximately one-third of all visible light is considered high-energy visible (HEV) blue light. Blue light is literally why the sky appears blue. These rays scatter more easily than other visible rays of light when they strike the atmosphere’s air and water molecules, and all that scattering makes the sky that vibrant blue color.
How Can You Protect Against Blue Light?
BluTech, a company that manufactures special blue light-filtering lenses, reports that "43% of adults have a job that requires prolonged use of a tablet or computer" — and that’s just while those adults are on the clock. Factor in all the time we spend online, texting and marathoning Netflix, and adults spend roughly 12 hours a day looking at screens and taking in blue light. So, how can you personally mitigate the harmful effects of prolonged exposure to blue light?