- Too much time spent sitting in front of a computer screen or mobile device could put you at risk of macular degeneration due to long-term exposure to the blue light emitted from electronic devices.
- Lutein belongs to a group of carotenoids that accumulate in the retina. Lutein absorbs blue light and protects the retina, thus slowing down degeneration related to retinal disorders.
- You can reduce the risk of macular degeneration due to blue light exposure from computer monitors, mobile devices, or TV screens by reducing the brightness on your computer monitor display, applying a special film or glass protection to reduce light; resting your eyes every 20 minutes; eating yellow and orange-colored fruits and vegetables; or taking 10-20 mg of lutein supplements per day which can reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration by up to 40 percent.
The world has now entered what is often referred to as the 4.0 era. New technologies have been developed and expanded upon, resulting in a variety of behavior-changing digital devices that serve the needs of varying lifestyles and professions. Business today can be carried out almost anywhere thanks to computers, mobile phones, and the Internet. Life is more comfortable and convenient, with less monotony. If we are not careful—if we allow ourselves to become too attached or even addicted to these devices—there can be negative impacts as well, such as a tendency to ignore our families or loved ones, and even a variety of diseases such as stress, depression, office syndrome, and macular degeneration.
There are a number of commonly-used devices that are sources of blue light that can negatively affect our eyes. The main sources of blue light that we are exposed to throughout the day are:
- Sunlight, which is our most intense natural light source and our primary source of blue light.
- Man-made devices, especially LED light bulbs, computer and notebook monitors, and mobile phone and tablet screens.
Which Type of Blue Light Should We Avoid
We encounter two types of blue light each day:
- Good blue light, which has a wavelength of 470 nm, helps us stay alert and active. It helps to regulate the circadian rhythm—the body’s natural wake and sleep cycle.
- Harmful blue light, which has a wavelength of between 415-455 nm, has a negative impact on the retina because it stimulates the production of lipofuscin (pigment or waste from cells caused by stimulation of free radicals), which is a risk factor for age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
The Body’s Mechanism for Blue Light Protection
Of the more than 600 types of carotenoids that exist in nature only 2 are found in the retina, accumulating in the macula lutea which is responsible for central vision. These carotenoids—lutein and zeaxanthin—help to filter or protect the retina from blue light or sunlight radiation that is harmful to the eyes, protect retina cells from damage, and defend against free radicals.
In addition to marigold flowers and goji berries, which are known to be the best natural food sources, lutein and zeaxanthin can also be found in corn, eggs, carrots, kale, cauliflower, amaranth, spinach, peas, pistachios, broccoli, morning glory, cucumber (including the peel), avocado, and pumpkin. Lutein and zeaxanthin are non-provitamin A carotenoids, meaning they are not converted into vitamin A like beta-carotenes are. This means they can be used immediately by the body and so not accumulate in the body when taken in excess.
Effects of Blue Light
- Digital eye strain, accompanied by possible symptoms such as eye pain, dry eyes, blurred vision, and watery or teary eyes
- Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) as a result of the formation of light-induced free radicals and lipofuscin (pigment or waste from cells caused by stimulation of free radicals), both of which are risk factors for AMD.
- Interference with melatonin production and balance, causing melatonin suppression by up to 70%, making it harder to sleep, and causing loss of balance in circadian rhythms. You should refrain from using the phone or watching TV in a darkened room or before bed.
Preventing Eye Damage While Working from Home
- Reduce the brightness of your computer screen or mobile device.
- Attach a dimming film or blue light screen filter to your computer screen or mobile device.
- Refrain from using blue-light devices in certain environments, especially using your smartphone in the dark or watching television with all the lights off.
- Take breaks and rest your eyes every 20 minutes.
- Eat foods that are good sources of lutein and zeaxanthin.
- Take vitamin supplements for extra eye care.
- The best rest for your eyes is sleep. If you are unable to sleep, however, you can rest your eyes by looking at something far away, which relaxes the focusing muscle inside the eye and reduces fatigue.
Vitamins and Nutrients that Nourish and Protect the Eyes
- Carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin, which are found in eye tissue and are most commonly concentrated in the center of the retina, can help to reduce the risk of cataracts and AMD by up to 40%. They also help to filter out potentially damaging blue light.
- Anthocyanins, found in bilberries, are powerful antioxidants that help prevent cataracts and macular degeneration, act as anti-inflammatory agents, and regenerate levels of rhodopsin which is necessary for eyesight adjustment and adaptation to the dark or low light.
- Lycopene, found in tomatoes (mostly the tomato peel), is a carotenoid that helps prevent conjunctivitis and reduces the risk of retinal cell degeneration.
- Flavonoids are found frequently in berries such as bilberries, cranberries, blueberries, raspberries, and goji berries. They contribute to retinal strength and help repair impaired capillaries and restore blood supply to the eyes.
- Beta-Carotene helps the eyes to see in low-light conditions and helps protect the retina from harmful ultraviolet rays.
- Vitamin A is known to be essential for good vision. It also helps to regulate skin and mucosal cell functions throughout the body.
- Vitamin E and Vitamin B Complex are considered to be good antioxidants, helping prevent cell damage and reducing macular degeneration.
- Pine bark extract and grape seed extract both contain OPC, which helps to improve and strengthen the capillaries supplying blood to the eyes, prevents diabetic retinopathy, and also helps reduce skin roughness, mottled pigmentation or freckles, etc., thus improving skin radiance and luminosity.
- Emblica extract is rich in vitamin C and antioxidants that help nourish capillaries, maintain retinal cell functions, and reduce itchy and/or dry eyes.
While we may not be able to avoid blue light completely, if we start to care for our eyes early on then we can look forward to healthy eyes for a long time to come. Today, more than 50% of Thai people in their 40s and older have eye disorders of one kind of another. It is important, therefore, that all those aged 45+ receive eye checkups every 1-2 years in order to prevent the occurrence of eye disorders such as early-onset glaucoma or cataracts.