Blue Light, UV and Your Eyes

Visible light is much more complex than you might think. Stepping outdoors into sunlight; flipping on a wall switch indoors; turning on your computer, phone or other digital device – all of these things result in your eyes being exposed to a variety of visible (and sometimes invisible) light rays that can have a range of effects.

Sunlight contains UV and blue light. UV light is part of the non-visible light spectrum, and we are exposed to it every day when we are out in the sun. It can cause damage to our eyes, particularly the cornea and lens. The cumulative effect of UV exposure can contribute to cataracts, skin cancer, as well as the potential for pinguelca and pterygium.

Blue light, which is part of the visible light spectrum, reaches deeper into the eye and its cumulative effect can cause damage to the retina. Furthermore, in certain wavelengths, blue light is implicated in the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The amount of exposure to blue light varies, depending on the time of the day, the location and the season. The average proportion of blue light that’s found in sunlight during the day is between 25% and 30%. Even on a cloudy day, up to 80% of the sun’s UV rays can pass through the clouds.

Light is also essential for various functions. It helps us to see better, it helps with our visual acuity and contrast acuity, it helps us perceive colors, and it helps with various non-visual functions of the body. For example, light helps to regulate our sleep/wake cycle, which in turn helps to maintain and regulate memory, mood, and hormonal balance.

As baby boomers age, there’s an increasing incidence of cataract and macular degeneration cases in the United States. In 2012, there were approximately 24 million cases of cataracts in people aged 40+, which is a 19% increase from 2000. For macular degeneration, two million people aged 50+ had late AMD in 2012, which is a 25% increase from 2000. By the year 2050 it’s estimated, that the cataract population is going to hit 50 million, whereas AMD tops off around 5 million. So the bottom line is that cataract and AMD cases are expected to double over the next 30 years, in part because of the aging population.

Please ask our knowledgeable staff about recharge reflective coatings and sunglasses that block all UV rays.