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Blue Light Impact: Prevent Eyestrain & Sleep Better Tonight

Video Highlights

• Blue light, screen use and what research is currently showing
• Computer Vision Syndrome & Dry Eyes Syndrome
• How to minimize the impact of blue light

Hi I’m Dr. Eric Cobb of Z-Health Performance, and we’re continuing our discussion today of computer vision syndrome, digital eye strain, and the dangers of Blue Light Impact. Ah, blue light. It gets discussed all the time now in bio biohacking circles and how bad it is for us and how much it’s contributing to all these different issues that we’re having. So I wanted to take a little bit of a rational view on this for you today. Give you some research based advice because when you really dig into the evidence around screens, remember we’re talking about computer vision syndrome in this series. The question arises, how much is the blue light emitted by my digital device, whether that’s my phone, my tablet, or my computer contributing to my eye strain? How much is it contributing to my eye fatigue to all the different domain issues we discussed with computer vision syndrome.

Remember, when we have ocular issues, we can have neuromuscular skeletal issues and we can have neuropsychiatric issues. So go back and watch the first video in the series if you don’t remember that. So again, the question is, how much does blue light exposure from a digital device affect me? How much is it affecting my eyes? So here’s kind of what we know.

Acute blue light exposure, particularly if it’s very, very intense, can be damaging to the retina. Alright, that’s been well known for many, many years. We know that blue light, again, acute exposure of specific wavelengths of blue light at a very high intensity can damage the retina. So the concern has been because screens produce blue light, is there some degree of retinal damage that’s occurring?

Now, here’s where things get very challenging, because in the research world we have a group of researchers who say, we have conclusively proven that chronic exposure to screens causes minute changes, amounts of damage to the retina, which is gonna contribute to computer vision syndrome and dry eye syndrome, et cetera over time. And then we have another group of researchers who have looked at all the other data and done meta-studies and looked at that group’s data and they go, well, we’re not really sure based on your data that you can make those claims. So even as of today, it’s 2024, there is still debate going on in the research community about just how damaging, if damaging at all blue light exposure is from screens. As a brain-based practitioner, here’s what I can tell you. Colors and different degrees of light intensity impact brains differently.

Our job as brain-based practitioners is to individualize or personalize the work that we do with clients. And so what we have seen anecdotally is that some clients are very, very responsive and very affected both by the color of their screens and by the intensity of the light. In a future video, I’m gonna talk about the contrast and you know, light settings, et cetera.

But specifically today we’re talking about colors. Now, when we look at the colors, the basic colors and their impact on brain function, here’s what we also have seen. If we look at our basic RGB, red, green, and blue, green is the most neutral of colors neurologically. And what I mean by that is whenever we look at the amount of brain activity that occurs when someone’s being exposed to green light, we do not see big jumps or ramps of metabolic activity in the brain. And that’s also proven out and showing sometimes, now, whenever you might be reading about people using green light therapy for migraines, migraines are often associated with hyperactivity neuronally. So green may be quite calming.

When we then look at reds and blues. Reds and blues are both activating. In other words, we will see more neuronal activity or more metabolic activity when people are exposed to red and blue light. Blue light seems to, in most cases, increase metabolic activity, increase neuronal activity in the brain more than any other light on the spectrum.

So if I have someone, maybe it’s you who is very light sensitive, it may be because the brain is already a little hyper-irritable. It’s a little hyper excitable, and we expose it to more and more blue light seven hours and five minutes a day, right? And all of a sudden you’re like, ah, I have a headache. My neck’s killing me. My hands are numb. I’m super irritated and super aggressive.

So as I said, research is divided on how much blue light is impacting the retina, right? We don’t know for sure how it’s affecting the eyes itself. What we can say is it does have a brain impact. And then when we look at even the more conventional side of the world, we know that blue light is impacting on sleep quality. So if we forget everything else about blue light exposure related to screens, we know that if you are exposed chronically to blue light from screens throughout the day, and then particularly as you’re heading into evening and leading toward bed, it can disrupt hormonal production and cause significant issues with sleep. So all that said, as a brain-based practitioner, is blue light exposure something we’re concerned with? The answer is yes. Are we concerned with it specifically because we’re worried about it damaging the retina in the eye? Not yet. What are we concerned with?

Well, on a personalized level, you may be very sensitive to different colors. We need to identify that and we need to find ways to solve that. And then finally, pretty much for everybody, we want to improve your sleep by hopefully decreasing the amount of blue light exposure and intensity of light you’re getting at night. So how do we do that?

A couple different things that we found to be really, really effective. Number one, you can get different screening tools to use on your phones, your tablets, and your computers. There are different apps that will actually change the color of your screens and generally reduce the amount of blue light impact. If you want to just play with this by yourself, you can go to your accessibility settings and move the colors of your screens toward the red, toward red overall, that will decrease the amount of blue light you’re experiencing. If you don’t like doing that. Your other option is eyewear. These are blue light blocking glasses and they’re, you’re gonna see these coming in different variants. This is a company called swanwick. I’m not associated with ’em, but I like their glasses. And one thing that they do is they offer daytime and nighttime blue light blocking lenses.

This one blocks about 40%. And so for me, this is a nice tool to use if I’m going to be on the computer a lot during the day. As I then move toward nighttime and I’m trying to prepare my brain to relax and calm down to go to sleep, then we’re going to go to glasses that are much more orange in nature, and these are gonna block somewhere close to 100% of blue light.

Now, people often wonder, are these actually effective? In other words, can I know for sure that these are actually blue light blockers? Well, yeah. The easiest way to do it is to look at blue light through those lenses. So I’m gonna turn, take my little to coordination challenge right now. I’m gonna turn on my little blue light and I’m gonna hold the this up.

And you can see that as it gets behind the lens, it still has kind of a blue shade to it. That’s because this is only gonna block the daytime. We’re only gonna block about 40%. If I then go to my nighttime, which you’re supposed to block almost all the blue light and I bring this down, hopefully you’ll be able to see that it is now looking somewhat green.

A good set of blue light blocking lenses. As you’re getting closer to nighttime, where you’re looking at that 99, a hundred percent blockage, you should see significant loss of all blues, right? Regardless of where you’re looking at the TV or computer, or you’re just outside walking. All right? Hopefully this again provides you a little bit of a logical perspective on this blue light controversy.

It can be a very big deal on an individual level, on a research level, we’re still trying to figure it out. But if you have digital eye strain, if you were dealing with computer vision syndrome, if you want our advice, look into lensing. Look into using blue light blocking lenses and changing the colors on your screens. It can make an enormous difference in how you feel at the end of the day, as well as how well your eyes are able to function over the coming years. Alright, hope you found this useful. We’ll be back soon to talk more about computer vision syndrome. Thanks.

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