Blue light is the latest threat to our eyes. According to Neilsen, American adults spend over 11 hours per day listening to, watching, reading, or generally interacting with media. This much screen time means more specialized eyewear and cautions made by eye care professionals.
However, there’s an even more serious threat that we experience outdoors — UV exposure to our eyes. Tell your patients this: 15 minutes in sunlight (a primary source of solar blue light), is equal to 10 hours of digital blue light.
UV exposure can lead to serious eye conditions down the road, such as age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Discussing the importance of wearing sunglasses is a small but vital preventative step.
What is solar blue light?
Solar blue light is electromagnetic radiation that is high-energy visible (HEV) and absorbed easily by the retina. This makes managing exposure to solar blue light extremely important — to avoid UV damage to the eyes. Once retinal photoreceptors are damaged or destroyed, they cannot be replaced.
Sources of solar blue light
The primary source of solar blue light occurs outdoors from the sun. In fact, an estimated 25 to 30 percent of sunlight consists of solar blue light rays.
Other sources include:
- LED lighting
- Compact fluorescent light
- Incandescent lighting
- Computer screens
While the increasing use of electronic devices is concerning, sunlight is a large contributor to blue light exposure. Use the summer season to start conversations with your patients about UV protection and the benefits of prescription sunwear to their eye health.
Use our free sun protection white papers to help you talk about blocking blue light and UV radiation with prescription sunglasses.
The benefits of solar blue light exposure
Exposure to some solar blue light helps maintain the body’s circadian rhythm. This is essential for healthy brain wave activity, hormone production, cell regeneration, and other physiological processes.
However, those levels should be balanced. Solar blue light keeps us alert and signals the body to release serotonin.
If your clients are struggling with sleep, reducing solar blue light exposure may help with a fuller, less interrupted sleep cycle. Decreased levels of light result in the body suppressing levels of serotonin and releasing melatonin, which helps with sleep.
The dangers of solar blue light exposure
Solar blue light has its benefits on our bodies’ circadian rhythm, but it also has some disadvantages. Being exposed to blue light results in poor sleep patterns. This can lead to a decreased immune response, which is linked to obesity, behavior disorders, depression, and increased cancer rates.
Its effects can have long-term impacts as its damage is cumulative and irreversible. HEV light is classified to be 380-500nm.
- Circadian Rhythm impact occurs at 460-480 nm.
- Retinal Effects happen between 420-460 nm — Blue light can cause structural and functional damage to ocular tissues.
- Glare and Scatter happen at 380-420 nm — Blue light creates extra strain on the eye.
The difference between solar blue light and digital blue light
Digital blue light comes from electronic devices like computers, laptops, or smartphones. As the use of digital devices increases so does the danger to your patients’ eyes.
When talking about solar blue light, use the opportunity to talk about digital eye strain and blue light protection from computers. Depending on your patients’ activities and work environment, they may consider multiple pairs of glasses — one for computer use and another for outdoor solar blue light protection.
Use these conversations with your patients to educate and set realistic expectations about multiple pairs of specialized glasses. This provides a natural segue to talking about their lens and frame options, and less of a hard sell.
Read more: Choosing the right sunglasses frames for your patients
Practice prevention against sun damage to the eyes
How can you protect your patients from solar blue light exposure and its long-term effects? Educate your patients about the value of sunglasses. Quality sunglasses should block 100 percent UV and solar blue light when outdoors. This will lower their risk of age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and cancer of the eyelids and skin around the eyes.
Make quality sunwear the primary pair of glasses
Sunwear becomes the primary pair of glasses during sun season, even for your patients who wear contact lenses. Every patient will see and feel the health benefits of a premium pair of sunglasses, even without the prescription.
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