It’s hard to think of something scarier than once having your vision, then beginning to lose it. Macular degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss, affects more than 10 million Americans. According to Macular.org: “Macular Degeneration is caused by the deterioration of the central portion of the retina, the inside back layer of the eye that records the images we see and sends them via the optic nerve from the eye to the brain.” When the “macula,” as this portion of the eye is called, loses function the eye loses its ability to properly see. Eventually sight can be completely loss.
Why Are We Bringing this Up?
Why, you might be asking, is GUNNAR writing about macular degeneration? Well, it turns out that exposure to ultraviolet and blue light contribute to the disease! Sunglasses and sunscreen typically advertise their ability to protect from UV rays. The sun releases UV rays. Blue light, it turns out, however, accelerates macular degeneration more than UV light.
The experts at Macular.org explain that certain people should ensure their protection more than others. They offer a first order list, and a second:
- First, they note those who absolutely must protect their eyes. “Those who work or play in the sun. For example, construction workers, farmers, truck drivers, sports participants and spectators, police officers, skiers, lifeguards, and beach goers.”
- Another group of individuals who ought to be careful. “Those taking medications! There are many photosensitizing drugs on the market today, including certain tranquilizers, diuretics, oral contraceptives, antibiotics, anti-diabetic and anti-hypertensive medications, and even artificial sweeteners such as cyclamates.”
What About the Rest of Us?
Macular.org asks a question on most of our minds upon hearing all this information. Although not everyone has macular degeneration, “should people wear blue light blocking lenses for electronic use ‘just in case?’” This very well-put question receives less attention in the article than it deserves. They note a certain study that downplays the benefits of blue light blocking lenses for electronics use. The study, however, does not conclusively disprove such benefits. As they say in the article, “it’s always best to consult your eye-care professional and to decide what’s best for you.”
As the article notes in its list of those in need of UV and blue light protection, those who spend more time in the sun need more protection. A similar list should be made for those using electronic devices:
- Gamers, programmers, and others who work on their devices for extended periods daily. Such individuals are the equivalent of those who work or play in the sun regularly. Their exposure to blue light trumps that of most others. Thus, they need special protection
- Anyone who feels the effects of digital eye strain. Anyone who has felt the effects of eye strain need special protection as well.
What to Do
If you fall in these latter categories a pair of sunglasses that protect from UV and blue light won’t do the trick. You need a pair of blue light blocking glasses. Such glasses have transparent lenses in differing colors blocking various levels of blue light. Whether you fall into one of the first two or latter two categories, take the step today to protect your eyes.