Have you noticed how your eyesight is diminished after looking at a computer for long periods? I certainly do.
Poor eyesight is a growing concern in the world. As much as 61% of the world’s population need to wear glasses today. It’s thought that the over-exposure to digital screens could be the cause of this diminished eyesight.
As well as that, a condition called macular degeneration, which is the deterioration of the retina in the eyeball for central vision is on the rise, steeply. Its thought that our increased use of digital technology plus unhealthy lighting may be at the root of this.
Everyone knows how tired and blurry our eyesight gets after squinting, trying to read small text on a mobile phone device. Eye strain for long periods concentrating on small close up images is the first reason for the growing weakening of eyesight.
The second cause of diminishing eyesight is over-exposure to blue and violet light. The wavelengths at question is in the below 400 nm to 450 nm range. Violet and ultraviolet, at the edge of the visible colour spectrum has a wavelength below 400 nm. Nm stands for nanometres, which is the unit used to measure the length of one wave cycle of the specific light. As well as these violet colours, blue light, particularly in the low end of the spectrum with wavelengths of 430 to 440 nm, have also been shown to damage eye tissue.
When it comes to identifying the sources of these blue and violet lights, there are two major areas that are troublesome – our home lights and also our digital screens.
So what happens when we stare at a mobile computerized screen? Digital screens use LED lights of a ‘day or cool’ nature. In other words, they are particularly strong and concentrated in the bright blue spectrum.
Unless you’ve been educated to use blue blocking techniques (more on that soon), your eyes will get a full blast of intense blue light in the range of 400 to 460 nm every time you watch a screen. This can be harmful to both your retinal eye cells AND also your sleep circadian rhythms.
Most people are also unaware that not only the blue light is a hazard, but the intensity of light is also a concern to your eyes.
The blue and violet rays are the highest energy colours in the colour spectrum. When they enter your eyes, they can easily damage certain light sensitive parts of the retina, cornea and lens, especially over time. The result? After prolonged continual exposure to this type of light, the retina will be become damaged. The condition which results is called macular degeneration. Or otherwise, a form of general visual deterioration will occur.
Macular degeneration is deterioration of the retina (the part in the back of the eyeball that registers light and images). Central vision is mostly affected. This condition is steeply on the rise, particularly in those countries with advanced technologies, where screens are used abundantly by nearly every person in their home, school and work environments.
In the US, this condition affects about 1 in 14 people over 40 years of age, 1 in 8 for those over 60 years and 1 in 3 for those over 80 years of age. Can you believe that?
The main concern is that this particular type of light has cumulative effects. In other words, as age progresses, and we are exposed to more and more hours of blue and violet light, our retina cells get more and more damaged with time.
As in all ‘dis-eased’ states, there are usually three arms to correcting the problem. First is to remove the damaging culprit. Second is to replace with a healthier option. Third is to encourage repair and restoration.
Step One – Remove the Culprits
When it comes to identifying the common culprits for this damaging light, we need to look at both our digital screens AND our house lights (or work lights if we spend more time at work than at home!)
One of the terms used to identify the unwanted and unhealthy effect of lighting on the eyes is called Blue Light Hazard. This simply refers to the potential for a light to cause damage to the eyes from the light radiation in the 400 to 450 nm range (blue – violet area). So if someone refers to a light having a high blue light hazard score (BLH), it means that the light is potentially very harmful to the eyes.
Let’s look at digital screens first. All our screens – phones, computers, tablets, TVs, gaming screens and whatever else might come in this category, use LED lighting which emits spikes and high levels of blue light. Believe it not, these electronic screen emit more blue light that the sun.
How about house lights? The worst culprits are fluorescent lights and LED lights. It was found that LED lights of a ‘cool’ or ‘day’ nature, and fluorescent lights cause the Blue Light Hazard four to five times more than incandescent, halogen and LED warm globes.
- Block the blue light by wearing blue blocking glasses (amber coloured) when sitting in front of a screen, ESPECIALLY at night. Read more here.
- Install the free app F.lux on to your computer here This will turn down both the intensity and also the blue light to your screens, particularly after sunset.
- Alternatively pay a small contribution and buy the more advanced screen app called IRIS here for more control over different settings for your computer and other digital screens
- Turn down the intensity of your light on your screens.
- Avoid over use of digital screens. Try reading a book in the evening
- Alternatively, like in my home, I have a projector connected to my computer. At night time I project whatever movie or information from my computer through the projector on to the wall. This way I have a large screen to view – and it doesn’t have all the blue light coming from the screen!
- Remove all Compact Flourescent light globes. These are the spiral ones most commonly found in homes today. As well as having high spikes in blue light, they also flicker unnaturally (and unhealthily). Plus most emit poisonous mercury vapours!
- Remove or don’t use any of the long tubes fluorescent lights.
- Remove ‘cool’ LED globes.
Step Two – Introduce Healthier Options
- Replace your light globes in your house. Buy some incandescent or halogen globes. Halogens are widely available though can be a little more expensive.
- Incandescent lights are harder to obtain these days as they were banned due to their higher use of electrical power to run. They do generate a little warmth, but the quality of light is so much healthier for the body than other lights. You may need to hunt a incandescent globe seller on EBAY, or ask a local lighting shop to order some in for you.
- If you want to use LED lights (although most do emit an unhealthy flicker which affects the nervous system), go for the ‘warm’ globes. This means lights which have a Kelvin temperature around 2,700 or lower.
- Instal red light globes in your lamps.
- Buy some red fairy lights. Many run off 12 volts or even a USB. They are low powered and give a lovely ambience in a room at night. Red light in the evening is a healthier option, gentler on both your brain and eyes, at night time.
Step Three – Repair and Restore
Many scientists think that once retina cells are destroyed, they will never regenerate. I beg to differ. But the science is not fully out there yet in the public arena to confirm this.
However, one particular doctor in Germany, Dr. Detlef Schikora, conducting research using near infra red for macular degeneration, has shown promising results in restoring vision for people suffering with this condition. I was fortunate to attend a presentation by Dr. Schikora in Florida at the International Light Association annual conference. in 2017. He meticulously presented his results showing that after working with 67 patients with macular degeneration, using as specific form of non-coherent near infra red light therapy, he was able to attain significant visual improvements for the 67 subjects experiencing the dry form of macular degeneration. His work needs to be circulated widely to offer help to people with this type of macular degeneration.
You can find out more about Dr. Detlef Schikora’s work here.
As in Dr. Schikora’s study, he found that using near infra red had healing and even regenerative effects on the eye tissue. There are several ways to get more near infra red in your environment. Try these:
To counteract some of the excessive blue, you can also ‘neutalise’ or ‘antidote’ somewhat by increasing the amount of red frequencies in your environment. This will also start the process of repairing and restoring your vision.
- Use a red / near infra red light therapy pad or panel (if you can afford one). You can explore these two as options. Red Light Therapy pads and Joov
- Watch the sunrise and sunset. At this time of the day, the sky is full of near infra red light.
- In winter, light a fire in your fireplace. Fires emit lots of near infra red light.
- Candle light is also full of near infra red.
- You can source out a reliable practitioner who can offer you regular near infra red light therapy to acupuncture points surround your eyes. However, be warned that using low level laser needs to be used with great caution around eye tissue. You can access near infra red therapy devices which use non coherent LED light instead of laser (for working on the eyes).
Happy eye restoring action!
‘Improve your light, improve your sight’.