The human eyes are sensitive to a narrow band of light wavelengths that range from blue (short wavelength and high energy) to red (long wavelength and lower energy). Blue light makes up approximately one third of the visible spectrum. The sun is our main and natural source of blue light. However, with advances in technology, we are also being exposed to other sources of blue light such as computer monitors, smartphone screens, flat screen televisions and LED lights.
While these sources generate blue light at much lower intensity than the sun, we are exposing ourselves to them for longer periods of time and at much closer distances. This can cause eye strain because blue light scatters more in the eye and is not focused as easily as lower energy wavelength light. This scatter creates “visual noise” that reduces contrast and can contribute to digital eye strain.
Natural blue light from the sun is important for maintaining the circadian rhythm (our natural sleep/wake cycle). It also helps to boost mood, memory and cognitive function. Exposure to too much artificial blue light, especially at night, from electronic devices may lead to poor sleep quality, difficulty falling asleep, and daytime fatigue because it has been shown to suppress melatonin production, sleepiness and morning alertness This is especially problematic for adolescents, who prefer sleep/wake cycles that are considerably delayed compared to younger children or adults.
Extended exposure to blue light over a lifetime, particularly from the sun, is likely to cause harm to the eye. It leads to conditions such as cataracts (clouding of the lens of the eye resulting in decreased vision) and signs resembling macular degeneration (a deterioration of the central part of the retina, which is essential for reading, driving and recognizing colours and faces). Studies have shown that it is the cumulative exposure to blue and ultraviolet light that causes these effects. Children are more vulnerable to the effects of ultraviolet and blue light because their eye lenses are less able to filter out high energy blue light
Evidence suggests that exposure to blue light in the 470-490nm wavelength range (lower energy) is less damaging to the eye than blue light in the 400-470nm wavelength range (higher energy) and essential for maintaining a healthy circadian rhythm. Development of LEDs with a peak emission in the safer range may represent an important advancement for ocular health.
While there is no clinical evidence of a damaging effect of exposure to artificial high energy blue light, children’s exposure to artificial light from electronic devices should be monitored and controlled. Over time, there might be accumulated damage to the eye from blue light exposure.
A healthy diet, rich in leafy green vegetables and colourful fruits, is important for general good health as well as for vision health. A healthy diet provides the vitamins and minerals that are essential for vision health and contribute to the eyes’ own natural defenses against the effects of blue light.
Good sleep is also essential for attention, learning, mood, and general well-being. The effects of blue light on the sleep cycle may be minimized by avoiding bright screens for two to three hours before bedtime and seeking outdoor light exposure earlier in the day.
Do I need blue-blocking lenses?
Research has demonstrated that extended exposure to sunlight is damaging to the eye. Therefore, it is good practice to protect the eyes from the sun, including wearing UV-blocking sunglasses. There is no clinical evidence that artificial blue light at low intensity and shorter exposure periods is harmful to the eye. Research suggesting a damaging effect of blue light on eye cells has only been conducted in vitro (in the lab) rather than on the living human eye.
There are filters and apps that reduce blue light from screens without affecting visibility and special glare-reducing lens coatings that block high-energy visible blue light. Whether or not to add blue-blocking coating on your prescription lenses is an individual decision that should be made with an optometrist, who as a primary eye care provider, is your best resource for making an informed decision. Together you can discuss your individual risk factors such as age, risk and length of exposure, history of or current eye conditions, and general eye health.
Who caught the Oscars last night? From the red carpet to the after party we've rounded up a few of the spectacular fashion eyewear photos. Spike Lee and Elton John caught our eyes in particular... it might be the purple though! We're pretty fond of the lavender hues here at Inisght Eyeworks!
Whenever someone thinks about sunglasses, they typically conjure up one particular image in their mind: a man or woman lying waterside at the local beach, soaking up the warm summer rays and relaxing in nothing but their bathing suits and their most stylish protective lenses. And, while summer is the optimum season for people to get outside and hide their eyes behind their fabulous new designer frames, it is not the only time of year where you should be protecting the health and safety of your vision.
Wearing sunglasses during the winter season is just as important, if not more so, than wearing eye protection during the summer months. While it may be difficult to feel the effects of the sun’s rays when you are outside in the freezing snow or ice, many times you may actually find that you have double UV exposure during the heart of winter.
During the snowy season, the winter sun sits at a different angle and is at a lower position in the skin. This means that your eyes can fall victim to more exposure from the sun’s harmful UV rays if you are not taking proper steps to protect them. The snow of the winter season can also act as a mirror, reflecting up into your eyes which could potentially cause snow blindness.
So, how do make sure that you are protecting your eyes from bright winter sun? The best, most efficient way is by wearing sunglasses, even on the coldest days of the year. Here is just a little more information about the dangers that the winter sun may bring to your vision:
Whenever you are walking around, whether it be in a great, big city or just a nearby small park, the cold, winter wind are constantly playing a role in your eyesight and your vision safety. When the wind begins to whip towards your face and sting your eyes, it can lead to direct dryness to the skin and eyes. One of the best ways to prevent this problem is to give your eyes periodic breaks throughout the day to stay closed and hydrated.
Excessive exposure to the sun can have dangerous, significant effects on many different parts of our body, including our eyes. Dangerous exposure to these harmful UV rays can lead to frequent vision problems, as well as the onset of several serious eye diseases, such as the development of cataracts.
Sun And Snow Blindness
Anyone who has ever driven while there was snow on the ground knows just how reflective and distracting this festive holiday treat can be. Even when there is no snow falling, you are still at risk of the UV-related vision problems commonly caused in the winter because it is glaring off of the top of the cement you are driving on, creating a bright, blinding reflection in your eyes.
While, for some people, sunglasses may be more about picking out a lens and frame that works best for your facial type and features, there are many other factors that you should keep in mind when purchasing sunglasses. After all, there is nothing that looks cooler than a pair of sunglasses that protect your eyes and the health of your vision.
In an increasingly digital world, we are exposed to artificial lighting more than ever before. Artificial lighting not only causes issues such as eye strain, headaches and blurred vision, but also impacts one of our most important internal biological processes: sleep.
Our sleep cycle is regulated by our internal body clock or circadian rhythm, which uses the light sensors in our eyes to track what our body perceives as daylight in order to match our schedule to our environment.
This process can be disrupted when exposed to artificial light, which contains blue light. Blue light is used by LED screens including televisions, computers and our phones, and can be problematic as it closely mimics natural sunlight. Because of this, our body interprets blue light as sunlight and sends signals to the brain that we should be awake. This can throw off our circadian rhythm and contribute to insomnia and other sleep-related issues.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help alleviate some of the issues caused by blue light to ensure a good night’s sleep:
Your eyes are your window to the world – they allow you do everything from performing everyday tasks to enjoying the most precious moments life has to offer. That’s why it’s important to be proactive and make vision a priority. Check out these simple tips to keep your eyes healthy:
Detection for cataracts starts younger than you think. As you age, your eyes undergo natural changes. However, if this includes blurry vision, difficulty seeing in dim light or extra sensitivity to light, these might be symptoms of cataracts.
Recent studies have found that more than 2.5 million Canadians have cataracts. This common eye disorder is typically caused by aging, though other risk factors include a family history of the condition, diabetes, some medications and prolonged sun exposure without proper protection.
As we grow older, the lenses of our eyes thicken and become cloudier. Cataracts are detected when vision is obstructed, similar to looking through a dirty car windshield. Eventually, those suffering from cataracts may find it more difficult to read, and colours of the objects around them may begin to appear dull or muted. Fortunately, the disorder can be corrected with surgery and risk can be lowered by using adequate sun protection and quitting smoking.
Since cataracts start small and grow over time, visual impairment may be underestimated by the person with the problem. The Canadian Ophthalmological Society recommends scheduling regular eye exams to be evaluated for the presence of cataracts and other potentially blinding eye disorders. If you have any of the above symptoms, it’s important to see your eye care practitioner for a diagnosis and to discuss treatment.
It’s no secret that as we age, our bodies and health change in ways that can slow us down, but prioritizing healthy vision can help to ensure we see clearly later in life. Learn more at cos-sco.ca.
Vision care is something you should think about long before you struggle to read the fine print. It should be part of your overall health regimen to ensure that any issues are identified and treated early. Here’s what to look for at every stage:
Toddlers and kids. Vision plays a crucial role in how children learn about the world. But don’t rely on your little ones to speak up about vision challenges – they don’t have anything to compare their sight to and they might not realize they have a problem. Make sure your kids have their eyes checked at least once by the age of three and continue to see an eye care professional annually.
20s and 30s. Noticing a decline in your vision? Most people think blurry vision is a sign they need vision correction like contact lenses or glasses, but it is also a symptom of dry eye. According to a survey by Alcon Canada, 85 per cent of us have experienced at least one dry eye symptom. Don’t put up with poor vision, talk to your eye care professional about your symptoms. The solution could be as simple as an over-the-counter all-in-one eye drop like Systane Complete.
40s. Did your arms suddenly get too short to read your smartphone newsfeed? You’re not alone – more than 7.5 million Canadians are living with presbyopia, the gradual loss in the eye’s ability to focus on close objects. Talk to your eye care professional to go readers-free and see everything near, far and in-between with multifocal contact lenses.
50s and beyond. Reminiscing about the days when cloudy vision, light sensitivity and muted colour didn’t get in your way? More than 2.5 million Canadians are living with cataracts, a natural condition that forms when protein builds up and clouds the lens in your eye. To restore clear vision, talk to your eye care professional about cataract surgery and the lens replacement options available to treat multiple eye conditions at once. The right lens could mean seeing the world in vivid colour or not having to wear reading glasses.
It is important to teach your children about eye health and safety from a young age. This includes awareness about how your overall health habits affect your eyes and vision as well as how to keep your eyes safe from injury and infection.
Starting off with good eye habits at a young age will help to create a lifestyle that will promote eye and vision health for a lifetime.
10 Eye Health Tips:
Eat right. Eating a balanced diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables (especially green leafies such as kale, spinach and broccoli) as well as omega-3s found in fish, such as salmon, tuna and halibut, help your eyes get the proper nutrients they need to function at their best.
Exercise. An active lifestyle has been shown to reduce the risk of developing a number of eye diseases as well as diabetes – a disease which which can result in blindness.
Don’t Smoke. Smoking has been linked to increased risk of a number of vision threatening eye diseases.
Use Eye Protection. Protect your eyes when engaging in activities such as sports (especially those that are high impact or involve flying objects), using chemicals or power tools or gardening. Speak to your eye doctor about the best protection for your hobbies to prevent serious eye injuries.
Wear Your Sunglasses! Protect your eyes from the sun by wearing 100% UV blocking sunglasses and a hat with a brim when you go outside. Never look directly at the sun.
Be Aware: If you notice any changes in your vision, always get it checked out. Tell a parent or teacher if your eyes hurt or if your vision is blurry, jumping, double or if you see spots or anything out of the ordinary. Parents, keep an eye on your child. Children don’t always complain about problems seeing because they don’t know when their vision is not normal vision. Signs of excessive linking, rubbing, unusual head tilt, or excessively close viewing distance are worth a visit to the eye doctor.
Don’t Rub! If you feel something in your eye, don’t rub it – it could make it worse or scratch your eyeball. Ask an adult to help you wash the object out of your eye.
Give Your Eyes a Break. With the digital age, a new concern is kids’ posture when looking at screens such as tablets or mobile phones. Prevent your child from holding these digital devices too close to their eyes. The Harmon distance is a comfortable viewing distance and posture – it is the distance from your chin to your elbow. There is concern that poor postural habits may warp a child’s growing body. Also, when looking at a tv, mobile or computer screen for long periods of time, follow the 20-20-20 rule; take a break every 20 minutes, for 20 seconds, by looking at something 20 feet away.
Create Eye Safe Habits. Always carry pointed objects such as scissors, knives or pencils with the sharp end pointing down. Never shoot objects (including toys) or spray things at others, especially in the direction of the head. Be careful when using sprays that they are pointed away from the eyes.
Keep Them Clean. Always wash your hands before you touch your eyes and follow your eye doctors instructions carefully for proper contact lens hygiene. If you wear makeup, make sure to throw away any old makeup and don’t share with others.
By teaching your children basic eye care and safety habits you are instilling in them the importance of taking care of their precious eye sight. As a parent, always encourage and remind your children to follow these tips and set a good example by doing them yourself.
Of course don’t forget the most important tip of all – get each member of your family’s eyes checked regularly by a qualified eye doctor! Remember, school eye screenings and screenings at a pediatrician’s office are NOT eye exams. They are only checking visual acuity but could miss health problems, focusing issues and binocularity issues that are causing health and vision problems.
Book an eye exam today with our Optometrist
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With over 30 years experience licensed optician Joe Bushara and his highly experienced team, bring you the latest trends in frames and technologies in lenses from around the world.