The light perceptible to the human eye is a complex phenomenon. You’re probably aware that sunlight emits both visible and invisible UV rays, potentially causing skin damage. However, there’s a whole spectrum of light wavelengths, which together comprise what we see as white light.
So what is blue light (i.e., high-energy visible light) about? According to the blue light facts, as the shortest wavelength within the white light spectrum, blue light produces the most energy. Although sunlight is the dominant source of blue light, we’re also exposed to artificial sources on a daily basis. After all, our modern-day homes are equipped with all sorts of electronic devices that emit this light.
We’ve dug deeper into the science behind blue light to catch the gist of it and deliver the data to you in a comprehensive manner.
Key Blue Light Facts & Figures Reviewed
- Eye strain affects approximately 70% of adults, but blue light is not the only cause.
- Blue light waves are dispersed to a greater extent than waves of other colors, thus making the sky seemingly blue.
- Blue light can improve mood and help you stay focused and awake when needed.
- When it comes to the dangers of blue light, the facts indicate that it inhibits melatonin production, which results in poor sleep and several serious medical conditions.
- Gardeners use blue light because some plant seeds won’t sprout without it.
- Children who sleep in a room without a phone or TV get 20 minutes more rest nightly than those who sleep with their phones or similar devices.
- People who wear blue light glasses, facts show, get an additional 50 minutes of sleep per week.
- The risk of blindness as a direct result of exposure to blue light is quite low.
Blue Light: Dangers, Benefits & Fun Facts
1. The wavelength of blue light is the shortest on the spectrum and easily dispersed, which makes the cloudless sky appear blue.
(Space Place NASA)
Have you ever wondered what gives the sky its bright blue color? These blue light facts explain that thanks to all the gases and particles contained in the atmosphere, once sunlight reaches it, light is dispersed all over it. Because the wavelength of blue light is the shortest in the white light spectrum, blue light waves are dispersed to a greater extent than waves of other colors, thus making the sky appear blue.
2. The amount of blue light emitted by electronic devices is negligible in comparison to that which is produced by the sun.
(All About Vision)
One of the widespread false facts about blue light is that we’re exposed to it only when in front of our screens. In actuality, blue light is all around us, and our devices produce significantly less of it than the sun does. It’s the portion of time people tend to spend with their eyes glued to a screen that causes concern among doctors.
3. Blue light suppresses melatonin production in the brain, contributing to sleep pattern irregularities.
Melatonin is the hormone that lets us know when it’s time to sleep. Our bodies are “programmed” to produce more of it at night—it’s usually around sunset when our melatonin levels start increasing.
One of the widely known facts about blue light waves (whether coming from the sun or a device’s screen) is that they inhibit melatonin production, which results in poor quality (and possibly a reduced quantity) of sleep. Moreover, researchers report a connection between a decrease in melatonin production and conditions such as depression, obesity, and metabolic syndrome.
4. There’s an abundance of artificial blue light sources inside an average household.
(All About Vision)
Do TV screens emit blue light? Yes, they do. While most blue light is issued by the sun, there are also various artificial sources within our homes. These include smartphones, LED lights, fluorescent lamps, computers, e-readers, smartphones, etc. Nevertheless, the amount of blue light emitted by electronic devices is significantly lower than that produced by the sun. The problem is our tendency to spend too much time in front of these devices.
5. The color of the light matters to your plants.
Here’s one of the more interesting blue light facts for gardening enthusiasts: the color of the light is essential when it comes to plant growth, and blue light has its specific purpose as well. Gardeners use artificial light to adjust the amount of UV light and optimize plant growth. Reportedly, blue light is used when seeds are about to sprout to increase the amount of chlorophyll during this initial stage. In fact, some plants can’t sprout at all without exposure to blue light.
6. Blue light is one of the most efficient skincare industry tools.
Researchers have come up with several positive blue light effects. Reportedly, it can act as a mood elevator and help you stay focused and awake when needed. Blue light therapy is also used as a treatment for several skin conditions. It can beautify the texture of one’s skin by reducing enlarged pores, spots caused by too much sun exposure, or those remaining after acne.
7. There are claims that photodynamic therapy, a method based on blue light, can act as skin cancer prevention.
Here’s yet another of the blue light facts highlighting its benefits. It helps treat precancerous skin lesions, as well as those that are cancerous but haven’t metastasized. This type of light-based therapy, called photodynamic therapy, is based on a reaction between the photosynthesizing medication rubbed onto the skin and either red or blue light exposed to the same skin area, destroying the targeted cells.
8. Blue light potentially works as a treatment of seasonal blues.
(N Vision Centers, Mayo Clinic)
When it comes to our mental health, what does blue light do? In a way, it improves it. For instance, those suffering from seasonal affective disorder (a type of depression with symptoms deteriorating in the winter) can undergo blue light therapy. Essentially, they expose themselves to blue light boxes emitting up to 10,000 lux of light.
Researchers believe lightboxes alter the brain’s chemistry the way sunlight would, helping you stay calm, focused, and bright. However, while generally considered safe and effective, they are neither tested nor regulated by the FDA.
9. While it can cause health problems, blindness is not among the immediate dangers of blue light.
(Harvard Health, Optometry Today)
While it does affect one’s circadian rhythm, the risk of macular degeneration or even blindness as a direct result of exposure to blue light is relatively low in comparison to some health conditions, such as obesity and hypertension, or detrimental habits like smoking. In response, recent studies have come up with surprising blue light blocking glasses, but recent facts argue against their use, claiming they don’t prevent eye diseases.
10. There are blue light filter apps you can install on your phone to reduce the impact of blue light.
While taking frequent breaks from computer work isn’t always possible, there are alternative ways to limit the harmful effects of blue light, including filter apps. These serve to neutralize blue light by determining the time for sunset and adjusting your screen’s hue accordingly.
Blue Light Statistics to Keep in Mind
11. Eye strain affects approximately 70% of adults, but blue light is not the sole cause.
(Florida Eye, AAO)
Almost 70% of those surveyed reported having symptoms of a condition called digital eye strain. Digital eye strain is characterized by blurry vision, loss of focus, sore eyes, and headache. However, while easily scattered blue light does reduce screen contrast and can contribute to digital eye strain, the actual trigger is staying in front of the screen for a long time. It’s important to take breaks and keep the recommended distance from your screen.
12. If you’re considering using a blue light filter, statistics from Columbia University suggest that those who wear blue light filter glasses get an additional 50 minutes of sleep per week.
For this experiment, one group of examinees was asked to wear glasses with blue light filters and another to wear regular glasses. Those who wore the so-called blue light blocking glasses slept for 50 minutes more on a weekly basis. When it came to sleep quality, their sleep was rated 4.3 out of 7 on a sleep depth scale. Meanwhile, the examinees who wore regular glasses rated their sleep quality as 3.3 out of 7.
13. Blue light filter facts and figures reveal that the world’s global blue light eyewear market is expected to reach $27 million within the following 4 years.
Whether blue light glasses are truly effective or not, according to market research, their global market worth is projected to leap from 2019’s $18 million to $27 million by 2024. Although their benefits (such as eye strain reduction or sleep pattern improvement) are still being researched, their advertising has apparently already borne fruit.
14. Blue light statistics show that nearly 100% of blue light rays reach the retina, as compared to less than 1% of UV rays.
(All About Vision, Raleigh Eye Center)
Unlike UV rays—which are easily blocked by the front layers of the eye—blue light hits the retina more easily. When the front layers of your eyes function properly, not even 1% of UV rays are able to reach the retinas (even when you aren’t wearing protective glasses). Conversely, virtually all the blue light we’re exposed to makes it through the corneas and lenses.
15. When it comes to blue light and phone use, statistics suggest that 54% of children sleep near their phones, and 75% sleep in a room that has a TV.
A study published in Pediatrics obtained data from 2,048 children, asking them about their habits pertaining to sleeping near electronic devices emitting blue light and their sleep patterns. Predictably, children who slept in a room without a phone or TV slept for 20 minutes longer each night than the children exposed to blue light inside their bedrooms.
Is blue light actually harmful?
Yes and no. While there are certain benefits to it, overexposure to blue light is by no means desirable. It may even be associated with macular degeneration. Because our eyes can’t prevent blue light from reaching the eye’s posterior layers, blue light can damage the light-sensitive cells in the retina. Also, there’s a well-established link between blue light and insomnia. However, it isn’t solely blue light that will cause this—it’s the way we use our screens that matters.
What is blue light, and why is it bad?
Blue light represents a color on the light spectrum perceptible to the human eye characterized by short wavelengths but high amounts of energy. It’s primarily bad because it suppresses the production of melatonin and hence affects our circadian rhythm. Thus, overexposure can lead to insomnia or poor sleep, which can further negatively affect one’s health. Also, since our eyes are not good at blocking blue light, it can reach the retina and cause damage to its light-sensitive cells.
(Blu Tech Lenses)
What does blue light do to your brain?
Natural blue light has positive effects on our mood and overall alertness. Once it vanishes, our mind is given the signal that it should rest. However, electronic devices producing artificial blue light are all around us, which causes confusion in our brains and inhibits melatonin production. As a result, sleep pattern irregularities arise and affect our daily functioning.
Should I use a blue light filter?
The best way to avoid the potential harm caused by blue light is by taking frequent breaks from digital screens whenever possible. However, there are alternative ways to protect yourself, such as filter apps, which may improve your sleep quality by reducing eye strain.
Although some researchers argue that they serve no purpose, you could also try out blue light blocking glasses. One study shows that those who wore them slept 50 minutes more on a weekly basis. While no one can guarantee that any of these blue light blocking methods will work for you, none of them will harm your eyes, so they’re worth considering.
Can blue light cause blindness?
The risk of macular degeneration or even blindness as a direct result of exposure to blue light does exist, but it’s fairly low compared to specific health conditions and poor habits.
(Harvard Health, Optometry Today)
Bearing in mind that we live in a digital era where most people spend a considerable portion of their waking hours in front of screens, it’s good to know what exactly we’re exposing ourselves to and whether there’s anything we can do to protect ourselves from potential harm. We’re confident that our blue light facts and statistics have shed light on the possible dangers of digital screens and debunked some of the widespread myths, all while revealing the silver lining of omnipresent blue light.