Vision is one of our most used senses and it impacts how we process outside information. Visible light is how we perceive all of this information and within the visible light spectrum, different wavelengths of light enable a different perception of color.
However, according to The Vision Council, an industry trade group for eyewear, 65% of people experience eye strain. The group of people with the highest amount of eye strain is the under 30 group where 73% of them experience eye strain. According to a Vision council report titled “Eyes overexposed: The Digital Device Dilemma” the group says that blue light in the range of 415nm to 455nm are the most harmful to our eyes. The report also says that most of our digital devices emit blue light at 400nm which could be potentially even more harmful. However, we don’t find a lot of blue light in nature but there seems to be quite a lot of it in our electronic devices. A zero cost partial solution to this problem is to take frequent breaks and look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes. Yet,for everyone, this isn’t a complete solution.
A complement to looking away and taking breaks are special glasses that filter out the harmful spectrum of blue light. Enter Gunnar glasses, Gunnar glasses have been on the market for 8 years. Their President, Scott Sorensen says that his company’s glasses filter out all of the ‘bad’ blue light (400nm-460nm) while letting in the ‘good’ blue light (460nm-500nm). Sorensen says that when you are looking at a close object or screen the muscles in your eye have to flex constantly for 2-3 hours it’s very tiring, like flexing your bicep for 2-3 hours.
Now how is all of this related to concussions? recently there have been advances with the diagnoses of concussions related to vision and visual acuity. Sorensen says in theory that the glasses can help lessen the stimulation that the ‘bad’ blue light provides (400-460nm) and enables the ‘good’ blue light (460-500nm) to come through and assist in promoting cognitive functioning. This ‘good’ blue light is the stuff we see when we wake up in the morning and it allows us to get up and get going.
A 2011 study in Switzerland, 13 people were tested and their brains were scanned when presented with an LED lit screen and the study demonstrated that there are changes in sleep patterns and cognition when we are exposed to these wavelengths of light and they do have impacts on our circadian rhythm and our level of cognition.
So what should we take away from this? Some blue light is good and some of it is bad. People need to take some breaks from looking closely at their electronic screens which can have some detrimental effects but could also have some positive effects when used right. Ultimately, have a discussion with your eye doctor about what is best for you.
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