THE BLUES ABOUT BLUE LIGHT
Blue light is getting a lot of coverage these days especially online. And we have a blue light filtering lens across all price segments and from every brand worth it’s salt.
So what is the “science” of blue light?
It is postulated (theorised) that the perception of blue light through the eyes inhibits the production of the sleep inducing hormone. So when the eyes sense blue light in the surroundings, it signals to the center in the brain that produces the chemicals that make us sleepy that it’s still not time to sleep. Basically, presence of blue light delays the onset of our sleep.
So why are we worried about it only now?
Well as cavemen our primary source of light was the sun. After sunset there is the waning light and so the amount of blue in the visible light begins to decrease. As the blue light from the surroundings decreases, the center for producing the “sleepy” chemicals starts its process and we start feeling sleepy.
As we invented artificial sources of light powered by fire and then electricity, our number of hours under light increased; consequently, our exposure to the blue part of the visible light. So, our “sleepy” chemicals kick in later in the evening than they should. Longer the duration of the evening, we see the blue of the visible light we see, the more our sleep is delayed.
Apart from pushing the hour of sleeping, exposure to blue light closer to bedtime also disturbs the quality of sleep; despite having slept for the adequate number of hours, sleep does not refresh us as much.
Now, it has been hypothesized that such disruption in sleep leads to lifestyle diseases. Modern day light saving and LED sources of light that we live in today are classified more towards the cold or blue spectrum than traditional electrical sources of light.
Therefore it is perceived that the effects of blue light should be more prominent now than that in the past; hence, the spurt in awareness about the blue light, it’s control and prevention.
It should be noted that the amount of blue-light is much higher in natural sunlight than any of the man-made sources of light. It is only the additional time, i.e. post the sunset, which should be the time our exposure to blue light begins to wane; that the exposure to blue light from artificial sources is a problem..
So, if we use the blue filtering lenses we are sorted? Well the marketers on the internet would want us to believe so, but…truth be told, not entirely.
Good blue v/s blue?
The most reputed brands are conservative to give a percentage of protection claim. So it’s not really taking away all the blue light.
Within the blue light spectrum itself there is a good part, essential for certain functions and the bad part that we can do without. It’s a very nuanced subject and would probably justify another post.
There are always misleading advertisements that bend reality and make claims that sound like their lenses take away 95-100% of the blue light. If that were true then one wouldn’t be able to see anything of blue color through those lenses.
Wouldn’t that make us blue-blind? There are cases in Europe where a leading optical chain made tall claims about the blue light protection of their lenses, much like some opticians online in India. The advertising council found those claims misleading and the European chain was asked to refund the premium they charged for blue cutting properties that they claimed.
To keep or to cut the blues?
There is also a debate as some studies show that exposure to blue part of the sunlight is instrumental to our feeling happy. In fact the USP of brand of sunglasses from North America is that its lenses enhance the blue perception to enhance the “happy feeling” or as they say to “beat away the blues”. This is for regions closer to the north pole where sunlight is far less plentiful than in India.
However, on the other hand leading bio-hackers and sleep specialists in the world vouch by blue-protection glasses. With some of them the debate has now evolved to if you need to have blue-light protection all day or only in the later part of the day.
Once again, is important to understand that its not the blue light that is harmful in itself, it is the time of the day when we are exposed to it that can have some disturbing effects. Irrespective of if you use blue-protection or not, the most optimal course to consider is weaning ourselves off digital screens 1-2 hours before going to bed.
As lens technology evolves, the leading lens casting companies are proactively producing newer materials that will absorb blue-light by default. We already have such advanced materials where we may not need to opt for a special coating per se for this feature; the material itself is evolved enough to make a wholesome lens product that gives the best protection for a digital lifestyle.
Check-out our ready-to-wear Blue-Tec range of spectacles.