The AMD and Digital Light Connection


With adults and children now using digital devices more then they sleep, there is an increased risk to overall eye health.  Consumers using devices with digital displays are exposing themselves to harmful light emissions, with growing research indicating a link to cases of age related macular degeneration of the retina.  This is a growing concern since the typical consumer is not armed with knowledge that most all digital displays emit a harmful high-energy visible light call Blue or High-Energy Visible (HEV) light.  Blue light is part of the visible light spectrum that is closest to UV Light and has the ability to penetrate through the eye’s natural filters and reach all the way back to the retina.  This is a concern that I want each of my patients to better understand. 

The Pros and Cons of Digital Light

Light is an energy source, much like sunlight that contains both the UV and Blue light.  The UV rays are part of the invisible spectrum of light but that doesn't prevent us from the harmful radiation. We may not see it, but it does affect the corneal band, the lens in our eyes. The blue light, which is the high-energy visible light goes deeper into the eye and affects the retina.  Blue light is a reason for the development of macular degeneration of the retina. The average proportion of blue light that's found in sunlight during the day is between 25% to 30%.

UV and the Blue rays

Visible light covers the range from 380 nm to 780 nm and UV light falls just beyond the shorter end of the visible spectrum; so human eye vision is beyond its reach. It is divided into three zones: UVA, UVB and UVC. UVA is between 315 nm to 380 nm, and is the least damaging of the UV light. UV exposure can most effectively cause you skin tan. UVB is between 280 nm and 315 nm, has got more energy and is fairly damaging if exposed to it on a regular basis. Acutely, it can cause sunburn. In more chronic forms, it can lead to skin thickening, wrinkling and melanoma and other skin disease. So exposure to UVB is cumulative to both the body and the eyes. UVC is in the range of 100 nm to 280 nm, and is the most biologically active of the UV light

But what about the blue rays?  High-Energy Blue light is between 380 to 480 on the visible light spectrum.  Blue light is what is used to create bright white digital displays.  Most digital display peak at 465 nanometers and this is the key area of the light spectrum that has drawn the most concern from Eye Health Professionals.  This Blue light has been researched to demonstrate various effects on the Human eye and specifically the retina.  Many are using digital displays more then ever in the workplace, home and at schools. 

Preventive Measure And Means of Protection From These Harmful Rays:

That being said, there are very few available solutions that a consumer can do to protect oneself from harmful exposure.  A few common examples include Blue light reducing digital display screen covers and glasses.  Others recommend giving your eyes a break from looking at displays every few minutes but this is a difficult habit to create and adhere to.  Blocking the blue light at the source with a screen cover is preferred.  We have found some screen covers state they block Blue light yet only a small amount.  I recommend looking for EyeSafe products that are designed to block from 15% all the way up to 60% of the harmful Blue light emission

Who Should Be More Attentive While Reading This?

Adults and children that are using digital devices for more than 5 hours per day on average.  Most people are surprised when they simply keep track for one day how much they look at a screen.  In general, we suggest reducing Blue light exposure for all individuals as a general best practice.