Molecular Psychiatry. Much of the harmful exposure arises from light emitting diodes (LEDs). August 2014. 2) May Raise Cortisol Exposure to either short-wave blue light or long-wave red light significantly increased cortisol levels at night, with little effect on cortisol levels during the day, in a small trial on 12 people [ 19 ]. As Stevens puts it, we are âdarkness deprived.â. âIt not only makes you more awake and alert by day; research suggests it may also make you less sensitive to the negative health consequences of light at night,â she says. It issued a statement showing concerns that the new ultra-bright light-emitting diode (LED) lamps many cities are now using in their streetlights could âcontribute to the risk of chronic disease.â. Blue light or blue-violet light can be damaging to delicate retinal cells deep in the eye. âAs opposed to the many other kinds of harmful environmental pollutants out there, we are rapidly figuring out exactly what to do about this one, and it is really not that hard,â says Richard Stevens, PhD, a University of Connecticut cancer epidemiologist and light-at-night researcher. Too much exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun increases the risks of eye diseases, including cataracts, growths on the eye and cancer. We know less about blue light. Just because a study shows that there were no harmful effects after one or two weeks doesn’t mean there would be no harmful effects over years and years of exposure. HARMFUL EFFECTS OF BAD BLUE LIGHT: 1- Degenerative changes of retina: In a research study by Essilor and Paris Vision Institute in 2008, they found a specific band of blue light (415 nm to 455 nm) is most harmful to the retina by splitting the visible light into multiple bands of 10 nm and each band was then focused on a porcine retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells for several hours. Lighting Research and Technology, May 5, 2015. Start powering down at dusk: Use programs like f.lux and other apps that automatically shift screens on phones and laptops to more orange-red longer-wavelength lights at night. It's also no more damaging than blue light from the sun, Dr. Khurana says. Blue Light and Macular Degeneration . While studies looking at the way light at night affects the human brain are only in their infancy, population studies of emergency room workers and oilfield workers chronically exposed to bright light at night show similar thinking and mood impairments, even if those workers are getting enough sleep, Nelson says. Posted April 20th, 2019 at … Go camping for the weekend: A recent study by University of Colorado-Boulder researchers found that as little as 48 hours spent in the woods, with no artificial light at night and as much as 13 times more natural light by day, prompted campers to shift into nighttime physiology (signaled by a rise in melatonin) 1.4 hours earlier. One fear is that overexposure to blue light could lead to retinal damage as is seen in the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). They promise to block out 90% of the most harmful blue light while you’re gaming, reading, watching TV, or doing anything else on a screen without distorting the color. Stevens says that beyond the 7 to 8 hours of sleep you try to get each night, you should make an effort to get 3 more hours of relative darkness. Just an hour of exposure from a glowing device, like a phone, suppressed melatonin by 23%; 2 hours decreased it by 38%. Is blue light harmful? Additionally, studies have shown blue light is a risk factor for the onset of age-related macular degeneration, which is a progressive condition that can lead to vision loss over time. Sleep issues aside, light at night is now being accused of helping fuel weight gain and metabolic diseases. Even if the gadgets are off, new eco-friendly street lamps, TVs, and household bulbs shine into the night, emitting a brighter, shorter-wavelength (more bluish), and more potent light than older incandescent bulbs did. International Journal of Obesity, January 2016. If you have trouble waking up in the morning or focusing, a source of blue light can assist with both. Smoking one cigarette doesn’t cause cancer. Best-case scenario: Youâll live longer. Replace the lights in your bedroom and bathroom with dimmer, longer-wavelength lights, consider using blackout shades if streetlights shine into your window, and invest in an eye mask for when itâs time to go to sleep. In one study, people in a sleep lab who read from an e-reader at night saw their nighttime melatonin levels drop by 55% after 5 days, took longer to fall asleep, had less restorative rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, and felt more groggy the next day than those reading a paper book. Today, many white LEDs are produced by pairing a blue LED with a lower-energy phosphor, thereby creating solid-state light (SSL). Customers say the glasses work as promised and are a great value for the price. They like the sleek look, and say they’re well made and comfortable to wear. We know less about blue light. People with light-colored eyes (blue or green, for example) are more susceptible to melatonin suppression by blue light than those with darker eyes . In October, NASA went so far as to change all the lights on the International Space Station to ones that, as night falls, dim and change to longer-wavelength light, which has been shown to have less impact on human physiology than âblue light.â, Last June, the American Medical Association chimed in. âThe more research we do, the more evidence we have that excess artificial light at night can have a profound, deleterious effect on many aspects of human health,â says Czeisler, who is also director of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School. Exposure to blue light comes from a variety of technologies including computers, televisions, and lights. Some European governments, with health risks in mind, now pay women night shift workers hazard pay. But many health experts say the results are troublesome enough to warrant action now. Trouble is, in the modern world, we are bathed by lights that have the same potent wavelength that wakes up to, so our transition to nighttime physiology has been delayed by hours. Many devices have nighttime settings that minimize blue light exposure in the evenings. Randy Nelson, PhD, chairman, department of neuroscience, Ohio State University. Several lighting companies, including GE, are also rolling out household bulbs that change wavelengths as the day goes on. Although people often associate blue light with computers and phones, the largest source of blue light is sunlight. Get plenty of natural light by day: Take a walk outside in the morning. Smart Grocery Shopping When You Have Diabetes, Surprising Things You Didn't Know About Dogs and Cats, Coronavirus in Context: Interviews With Experts. Studies show that most office environments are too dim to stimulate the positive, alerting effects of light by day. As a result, it rests in the blood, where it makes diabetes more likely, or it's stored as fat. How can anyone unequivocally say that blue light from screens has no harmful effect on the eye when there have been no long term studies on the issue? Wright, K. Current Biology, February 2017. National Toxicology Program workshop: "Shift Work at Night, Artificial Light at Night, and Circadian Disruption. The long-term effects may be harmful. During the day, blue light wakes us up and stimulates us. ", NASA website: "Testing Solid State Lighting Countermeasures to Improve Circadian Adaptation, Sleep, and Performance During High Fidelity Analog and Flight Studies for the International Space Station (Lighting Effects). Instruction Courses and Skills Transfer Labs, Program Participant and Faculty Guidelines, LEO Continuing Education Recognition Award, What Practices Are Saying About the Registry, Provider Enrollment, Chain and Ownership System (PECOS), Practice Forms Library - Job Descriptions, MIPS Solo and Small Practice Survival Guide, 2020 MIPS Payments: Understanding Remittance Advice Codes, Final Checklist for EHR/Non-EHR 2019 MIPS Reporting, Subspecialty/Specialized Interest Society Directory, Subspecialty/Specialized Interest Society Meetings, Global Programs and Resources for National Societies, International Society of Refractive Surgery. Invest in a bright light -- one that delivers 1,000 lux (a measure of light intensity) or more of blue-hued light at eye level -- to put on your desk at work. One March 2016 study by University of Haifa researchers compared World Health Organization obesity data with military satellite images of nighttime lighting and found that the men and women who lived in the places most illuminated at night were also the most likely to be obese. Mariana Figueiro, PhD, light and health program director, Lighting Research Center, Troy, NY. Mariana Figueiro, PhD, light and health program director at the Lighting Research Center in Troy, NY, stresses that in addition to minimizing bright blue-hued light -- especially from gadgets held close to the eyes -- at night, we should try to maximize the amount of bright light we get during the day. They also fell asleep earlier than others who didnât go camping and were less groggy Monday morning. As light fades, the body begins to transition to ânighttime physiology,â in which melatonin levels rise, body temperature drops, sleepiness grows, and hunger goes away. ", American Medical Association. Research is young, but some studies suggest that chronic exposure to excess light at night may also fuel cancer, in part by lowering the levels of melatonin -- a known anti-cancer agent -- circulating in the blood. The best way to protect your eyes against eye strain from blue light in devices is to take regular breaks using the "20-20-20" rule: Every 20 minutes, shift your eyes to look at an object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. The bottom line, Dr. Khurana says, is that taking preventive measures against blue light even though there is no evidence of damage could be more harmful than the blue light itself. That is why Dr. Khurana recommends that you try to limit your screen time in the two to three hours before you go to bed. The best-documented consequence, by far, of excess evening light exposure is short-term sleep disruption. âIn a sense, with all our gadgets, we are all night shift workers to a degree now,â says Blask. WebMD does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Charles Czeisler, PhD, MD, chief, Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders, Brigham and Womenâs Hospital, Boston. The time spent in this restful state, even if we are not actually sleeping, is restorative, Stevens says. Skip the glasses that claim to protect your eyes against blue light, because of a lack of evidence they are effective, Dr. Khurana advises. One 2014 study by Northwestern University researchers found that people who got most of their bright light exposure before noon were about 1.4 pounds leaner on average than those exposed to most bright light in the evening.
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