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(BPT) – It’s everywhere — inside as well as outside your home. As digital device usage increases, you’re exposed to more and more of it without realizing how it may affect your vision in the future. We’re talking about blue light.

In its natural form, your body uses blue light from the sun to regulate your natural sleep and wake cycles. This natural light also helps boost alertness, heighten reaction times and elevate moods.

However, we use our eyes much differently than prior generations because we now use a number of artificial sources of blue light including digital screens, electronic devices and LED lighting. The evolution in digital screen technology has advanced dramatically over the years, and many of today’s electronic devices use LED back-light technology to help enhance screen brightness and clarity. These LEDs emit very strong blue light waves. Because of the widespread use and increasing popularity of these devices, we are now exposed to more sources of blue light for longer periods of time. Studies suggest 60 percent of people spend more than six hours a day in front of a digital device.

The flickering of this artificial blue light creates a glare that can reduce visual contrast, affecting sharpness and clarity. That in turn could contribute to eyestrain, headaches, physical and mental fatigue due to increasing amounts of time sitting in front of a computer screen or other electronic device. 

Studies show this high-energy, blue-violet light has been found to cause significant damage to retinal cells, and is a risk factor for the onset of age-related macular degeneration, a deterioration of the part of the retina responsible for sharp, central vision.

Our eyes’ natural filters do not provide sufficient protection against blue light rays from the sun, let alone the blue light emanating from these devices, or from blue light emitted from fluorescent-light tubes.

Mother Nature arms us with “internal sunglasses” made up of macular pigment. This pigment, which is comprised of zeaxanthin (zee-uh-zan-thin) and lutein at a ratio of 2:1, is found in the center of the macula (fovea). This pigment absorbs harmful blue light that can affect eye health. These “sunglasses” protect the rods and cones needed for central as well as peripheral vision.

However, if this macular pigment isn’t at optimal density, it will allow more blue light to damage these rods and cones, negatively affecting not just what you see, but how you see.

Zeaxanthin and lutein aren’t produced by the body, they must be ingested in order to ensure optimal macular pigment density. Zeaxanthin can be found in foods like corn, wolf berries and peppers. Lutein is found in foods like spinach and kale.

Since the average American diet is scarce in zeaxanthin, supplementing this antioxidant is key. Vitamins for macular health, like those made by EyePromise, can be of big benefit. 

Vision becomes even more precious as we age, since the loss of independence a very real threat to aging Americans. Reduce your risk of harmful effects of blue light to your vision by increasing the density of your “internal sunglasses.”