What is Blue Light?

 5 min read

As we integrate digital devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops in our lives, it is essential to understand the ways in which they affect our health. One way these items affect us is through Blue-light. You have probably heard of that term together with health issues that it causes, ranging from insomnia, eyestrain, and headaches. However, before we can dig deeper into effects, what is blue-light?

Understanding blue-light requires that we learn about the 'electromagnetic spectrum.' Anytime you are out of your house and out in the sun, you are surrounded by electromagnetic particles traveling in different waves. We can see some of these waves, such as the UV rays that burn or tan our skin, while others are indifferent to the human eye. These waves will often differ in terms of strength and length; for example, shorter wavelengths are known to emit higher energy levels. The electromagnetic spectrum or the high-energy visible light (HEV) is composed of blue, green, yellow, orange, and red light, and produces a high amount of energy. Only the blue wavelength is visible to the human eye.

Still confused? We measure wavelengths using nanometres (a billionth of a meter), and when compared to red light's 700nm, blue light records a range of 380nm to 500nm. It falls under the category of short, high-energy wavelengths, which is responsible for about a third of all visible lights. However, before you can start looking for all types of solutions to keep yourself protected, you must understand how useful blue-light can be in the right context.

While sunlight produces great levels of blue-light, this type of blue light is beneficial to our bodies. When our bodies come into contact with blue light during the day, our attention levels are boosted, allowing us to become productive and remain alert. This type of blue light also affects our mood. The lack of sunlight will often cause Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which can lead to depression, especially during winter and autumn. A temporary solution involves using HEV blue-light, which helps banish all the winter blues by mimicking the sunshine. Exposure to sunlight also ensures that our circadian rhythm is in check. Our circadian rhythm is the natural-24 hour cycle that our bodies adhere to. It is this cycle that lets the body know when is the right time to rest and sleep.

However, recent years have seen a growth in studies and incidences of negative effects caused by blue light emitted by tablets, TVs, computers, and smartphones, among other digital devices. Most of us spend more than eight hours staring at a screen through messaging apps when communicating with friends or updating our lives on social media. This shows you the quantity and the extent to which we are exposed to blue light. Additionally, the human eye, which works exemplary in blocking out harmful UV rays, fails to maintain the same when it comes to blue light. Most of the blue light emitted by these devices get to the light-sensitive area at the back of the eyeball. Click here to find out more about how blue light affects sleep, and here to browse Focucci's stylish range of frames.