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Is it time to wear a “sun-screen” for our devices: The Effects of Blue Light on Ageing

Blue light

What is Blue Light?

Light travels from the sun through our atmosphere to the intended target (structures on earth). If you recall in High School physics much debate occurred amongst scientists historically if light was a particle or wave. It is accepted that light is both a particle and wave and transmits electromagnetic radiation.

Invisible light such as ultra violet light is dangerous as it causes skin cancer, premature ageing and is harmful to the eye (100-350 nm). The beginning of the visible light spectrum from 350 to 700 nm is where blue light or violet light exists. Specifically blue light is 400-450 nm and it is here where the wavelength is both short and has high energy. This is termed High Energy Visible (HEV) light.

HEV Light otherwise know as blue Light is emitted by sun light and a number of modern devices. These devices include LED screens, fluorescent lighting, Iphones, smart phones, tablets and other devices. With the increased use of such devices by the average person the amount of blue light exposure has increased exponentially in the last 5 years. To put in perspective the average adult spends 53 minutes on social media a day so the amount of blue light direct exposure is well over an hour a day and increasing.

HEV light is high energy in the 400-450 nm (Violet/Blue) visible light range, hence the “blue light” labelling. See the figure below outlining the spectrum of light.

Blue light chart

Pros and Cons of Blue Light

The beneficial effects of HEV light include increased alertness, improvement in memory and cognitive performance.

Detrimental effects include interruption of circadian rhythm, insomnia, digital eye strain leading to headaches, dizziness and neck pain. Implications in visual disturbance and photo ageing.

Does Blue Light Cause Photogenic Ageing?

Blue light has been shown to cause retinal damage in rats. The mechanism of damage is the formation of free radicals that cause oxidative stress and direct damage to the retina. While these results cannot simply be extrapolated in humans, the formation of free radicals and therefore cell damage can. There are a number of scientific studies currently in progress to learn more about blue light and the effects on skin and the human eye.

To place in perspective UV light is between 100-300 nm and this is well known to cause photogenic ageing and skin cancer. HEV or blue light is 400-450 nm and early reports from some skin studies in the USA suggest it may penetrate deeply into the skin structures to cause ageing, much like UV light does.

The formation of free radicals has been implicated in a number of disease processes such as Hypertension, High Cholesterol, Atherosclerosis, Cancer and Cell ageing. Free radicals are atoms or molecules containing an unpaired electron. They are extremely active and short lived. Free radicals can attack cell molecules and cause direct damage. This damage in skin leads to solar keratosis and weakens the structure of skin. This leads to premature ageing.

From a scientific point of view there is yet to be firm evidence suggesting a link between blue light and skin ageing, however what is not disputed is that blue light can cause the formation of free radicals and this does lead to ageing. It is a matter of time before firm evidence presents itself.

What can we do about the blue light?

We can use our devices less if possible. The use of blue light blocking glasses is effective, and these are available at a number of retailers (more as a fashion statement-blue spectacles). Specific eye lenses can be made or purchased to filter out blue light.

Other options are turning the screen brightness down on our devices, some devices allow the colour to be changed to a dim grey.

Take more frequent breaks from the screen and remember to blink more.

What products are available to protect us?

There are beauty products available that protects against blue light. Babor has the perfect glow ampoules which are exclusively available at Artiste Plastic Surgery. These ampoules contain a cacao peptide as an active ingredient that is know to have anti oxidant properties. It also produces an amazing glow.

The Effects of Blue Light on Ageing

This in combination with lenses that filter blue light are effective barriers to blue light.

In summary the exposure to HEV or blue light is increasing in society, methods to minimise and protect against the exposure will mitigate against potential skin ageing and retinal injury.

Final Thoughts

It is important to know that if you are on your device outside or by a window the harmful UV light is probably still worse than blue light, so please ensure you have sun protection with a SPF skin protection as UV light is very harmful.

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Artiste Plastic Surgery is an Award Winning Specialist Plastic Surgery practice led by internationally trained Dr. Jack Zoumaras, Plastic Surgeon and Face Expert

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