Much has been said about the effects of blue light on one’s physical health. There is also no doubt that there have been in-depth discussions about the effects of technology on children, both physical and mental. But what really are the effects of blue light exposure on kids who have been a part of the tech-generation from a very young age? Are the effects on children different from the ones on young adults and older generations? Or, are the prolonged effects of blue light technology universal? Let us dig a little deeper and find out.
What is Blue Light?
For those of you unfamiliar with the phrase “blue light”, it is a specific wavelength of light. Found naturally (with its most common source being the sun), it is less directly harmful than ultraviolet rays. In the artificial sense, blue light is the most common light emitted from our laptops, televisions, tablets and mobiles, and even some household light sources.
While some amount of exposure to blue light is said to be good for one’s health (blue light is used in therapy quite often), there are obviously ill effects when anyone is exposed to any source of light for a long amount of time. So what does Blue Light exposure do to children?
Children and Blue Light Technology
Children of the twenty first century have been exposed to blue light technology in a way that adults of older generations have not. The percentage of their lives they spend around artificial blue light sources is almost a 100%, unlike adults who have only started using technology in the later course of their life.
One of the major differences is that children’s eyes are much more sensitive. According to the American Optometric Association, children’s eyes absorb more blue light than adults’ eyes because they accept shorter wavelengths easily. Combine this with the fact that the human eye has no natural protection against blue light (unlike ultraviolet), and you have yourself a recipe of retinal damage for children.
Moreover, exposure to blue light can increase the risk of macular degeneration later in life. While the blue light from screens does not do a massive amount of harm in short periods, it can definitely combine with the damaging effects of natural blue light and cause long-term harm.
Artificial lighting today, such as LEDs has very high content of blue light that consumer are not aware of. So, if you are reading under this high energy waves lamps, you have the same effect as staring on a computer or device screen.
The changing landscape of LED adoption is obvious not just in the prices on the store shelves, but also in shifting consumer perceptions. Customers are buying solid-state lighting for general illumination in their homes. Those who are making the switch from compact fluorescent lights to LEDs are lured by the color of the bulb, low energy use and Energy Star approval.
The rapid adoption of LED lighting by the average American household is marking an increasing shift in terms of technology usage. The growing global effort to speed up LED adoption could ultimately cut global energy costs and carbon pollution 5 times as much. Driven by sharp cost reductions and performance improvements, the increase usage of these lights is having detrimental effect on us and our children.
The Circadian Rhythm and Blue Lights’ Effects
Do you ever find that your child is irritable throughout the day, and unlikely to go to bed because they’re glued to their favorite screen? If so, then there is a chance that this is the effect of blue light. More than the engaging content designed to keep their attention, blue light is also affecting their circadian rhythms.
A study by the National Sleep Foundation has found that short wavelength lights can cause the pineal gland’s melatonin secretion to go awry. As a result, melatonin levels do not reach desired levels in your child’s body, and they do not feel sleepy. Moreover, the lowered melatonin can cause your child to lose out on REM cycles, and they wake up feeling unrested and sleepier.
The combination of sleepiness combined with dry eyes, headaches, and irritability makes for a child who is constantly in a state of agitation. At best, it can cause tantrums. At worst, it can have a negative effect on their mental and physical health.
How to Protect Your Child’s Eyes from Blue Light?
One of the easiest and most direct ways to protect eyes from harmful blue light is to remove the source of light. Creating a strict schedule and regulating the amount of time children spend in front of screens (particularly in the evening) can have a massive positive effect.
Another way to ensure that this schedule is beneficial is to encourage them to frequently take breaks, and to engage in non-screen related activities for a few hours a day. Most devices these days come with “night mode” which cuts the blue light emissions automatically depending on the set time.
Ultimately, while we cannot fully protect kids from blue light exposure, regulating how much time they spend around it can be a simple but very helpful step in protecting their young eyes and ensuring their good night sleep.
Dr. Lite is the first to engineer specially patented LED that does not contain any of these harmful rays. Our premier line of lamps is designed to offer the most balanced spectrum which do not disturb your vision or your health!