Hands up if you spend more than a few hours a day on your phone, tablet or computer? Are your kids almost glued to their screens every chance they get? Concerned about the impact this might have on eye health and vision?

Well, you’re not alone. Recent data collected by Longergan Research in 2017 reported that Australians spend more time in front of blue light emitting screens than they do sleeping. 

A whopping 9.4 hours a day on average!

Many reported eye problems such as tired and sore eyes and whilst they expressed concerns with this level of blue light exposure, 79% would prefer to eliminate the effects of blue light than reduce screen time. Not surprising when we think about how digitized everyday tasks have become.

So, what’s the big deal about blue light?

Blue light is everywhere, sunlight has blue light. However, it is the artificial blue light from digital screens and the 24/7 access that is concerning. Especially when we consider children’s eyes are still developing well into their teenage years.

Blue light is the portion of visible light with the highest energy and shortest wavelength. It can penetrate all the way to sensitive cells in the inner lining of the back of the eye, the retina.

Too much exposure to blue light is thought to be associated with eye problems and changes in eye health. Not just a concern of the elderly. Everyone that spends time in front of a screen needs to think about the possible impact accumulative excessive blue light exposure has on their eye health. 

How can we protect our eye health?

Good nutrition from natural foods such as dark green leafy vegetables, orange and yellow fruit and vegetables, oily fish and pasture-raised eggs can play a major role in keeping your body healthy.  They contain the essential nutrients lutein, zeaxanthin, anthocyanins and omega-3 fatty acids that offer protective benefits to support eye health.

Numerous studies have shown the two carotenoids Lutein and Zeaxanthin, that make up the yellow macular pigment found in high concentration in the retina can protect the eye by acting like natural sunglasses and filtering some of the blue light.

In fact, a meta-analysis published in 2016 showed lutein and zeaxanthin supplementation improved the number of macular pigments in both healthy subjects and patients with macular degeneration.

Although our bodies are smart, we do not synthesis Lutein and Zeaxanthin. We need to get these antioxidants from our diet or high-quality supplementation.

Next time you are at the supermarket considering popping some kale, spinach, broccoli, orange capsicum, some citrus fruit and free-range eggs into your basket. Lutein and Zeaxanthin are better absorbed with a little healthy fat so remember to grab some olive oil and avocado while you’re there. A few times a week consider having fish high in Omega-3 fatty acids. Wild caught salmon and small fatty fish such as sardines and anchovies can support cell membrane structure and boost eye health.

Another nutrient superstar for eye health is Bilberry fruit. It contains high amounts of the antioxidant anthocyanin.  Research suggests it may be protective against blue light exposure. An in-vivo study conducted in 2014 showed cells pretreated with Bilberry had markedly reduced blue light damage.

Additionally, the results of a 2005 animal study suggested that long-term supplementation of bilberry extract may be helpful in the prevention of macular degeneration.

‘Making little dietary changes by supporting your body with essential nutrients can go a long way to protect your eyes from digital blue light exposure.’

Written by Hannah Williams Naturopath



For more information on Blue Light, and to see how exposed your are - head over to https://bluelight.naturesway.com.au/ 

References:

  • http://www.allaboutvision.com/cvs/blue-light.htm
  • Ballantyne, S. Paleo Principles: The Science Behind the Paleo Template, Step-by-Step Guides, Meal Plans, and 200+ Healthy & Delicious Recipes for Real Life. 2017
  • Jia, Y.-P.; Sun, L.; Yu, H.-S.; Liang, L.-P.; Li, W.; Ding, H.; Song, X.-B.; Zhang, L.-J. The Pharmacological Effects of Lutein and Zeaxanthin on Visual Disorders and Cognition Diseases. Molecules 2017, 22, 610.  
  • Ma L, Liu R, Du JH, Liu T, Wu SS, Liu XH. Lutein, Zeaxanthin and Meso-zeaxanthin Supplementation Associated with Macular Pigment Optical Density. Nutrients. 2016;8(7):426. doi:10.3390/nu8070426.
  • http://www.allaboutvision.com/nutrition/fatty_acid_1.htm
  • Kenjirou Ogawa, et al, Protective effects of bilberry and lingonberry extracts against blue light-emitting diode light-induced retinal photoreceptor cell damage in vitro, BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, April 2014.
  • Fursova, AZh. Dietary supplementation with bilberry extract prevents macular degeneration and cataracts in senesce-accelerated OXYS rats. Adv Gerontol, 2005, 16:76-9.
  • http://www.allaboutvision.com/cvs/children-computer-vision-syndrome.htm