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Q: What is blue light, and what does it do?

Posted October 15, 2014 in Advice Column, Ankeny

A: Blue light is part of the visible light spectrum, near the invisible UV rays toward the blue/violet end of the spectrum. We all know the harm UV rays can cause, but there is growing evidence that too much blue light can be potentially bad as well.

Blue light is emitted in larger quantities by fluorescent lights and especially video displays: computers, smartphones and HD TVs. We need some blue light to help set our inner clock, so that we have normal sleep cycles. Too much blue light can disrupt sleep cycles, and over the course of time, it may actually damage our eyes. It has been linked to earlier cataract formation and to macular degeneration.

When it comes to kids, this could be a big deal, as they are using electronic devices earlier and more often than any generation before, and they will continue to use them at high rates for the foreseeable future. Limiting screen time can help, and there are new lens coatings that help to block blue light from entering our eyes. In case you’re wondering, they don’t look like the Blu-Blocker sunglasses from the TV commercials. These new coatings for your glasses lenses look like other types of anti-reflective coatings. The big thing to remember is that some blue light is good, preferably from the sun itself, and that we need to work to limit our blue light exposure from electronic devices.

Information provided by Dr. Erik Romsdahl, Child and Family Vision Center, 2525 N. Ankeny Blvd., Suite 109, Ankeny, 964-7541.

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