(BPT) – Blue light is everywhere — from the sunshine you enjoy on a beautiful day, to the digital devices you have come to depend upon.
You might think blue light does not affect the quality of your vision now, but studies are showing that the cumulative effects of blue light can negatively shape your vision quality many years into the future. Blue light from light-emitting diode (LED) televisions, smart phones or computers can cause accumulating damage, increasing the risk and severity of developing Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD). Blue light can damage photoreceptors: the rods and cones within the eyes.
Blue light exposure over time contributes to an increased risk of superoxide, according to Stuart Richer, who serves as director of Ocular Preventative Medicine at Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago. Superoxide is toxic, eventually causing damage to the photoreceptor cells, ultimately leading to cell death. Since rods and cones can’t be regenerated, vision problems like AMD develop.
“Modifying environmental factors is currently the only approach to reduce genetic risk of AMD,” says Richer.
Zeaxanthin and lutein, two carotenoids found within the eye, have been found to benefit by virtue of protecting and enhancing vision. These carotenoids create macular pigment, which is found in the retina, or back of the eye, and are found at a ratio 2:1.
One way to protect photoreceptors from blue light is to increase the density of macular pigment. The macular pigment acts as a pair of internal sunglasses, shielding photoreceptors from blue light. If Macular Pigment Optical Density (MPOD) is at suboptimal levels, this pigment can’t properly protect the photoreceptors from damage and oxidation.
Another way eye care professionals can help patients is to offer a Macular Pigment Optical Density screening. Measuring the macular pigment can serve as a biomarker for patients and assess whether supplementation is necessary. Since zeaxanthin and lutein aren’t produced by the body, they must be ingested in order to ensure optimal macular pigment density.
Because the average American diet is scarce in zeaxanthin, supplementing this antioxidant can be beneficial to many. Eye vitamins like EyePromise’s vizual EDGE, Restore, or AREDS2 can replenish macular pigment optical density levels. This brand of macular health supplements is guaranteed to help patients increase their MPOD levels within six months.
In spite of the consequences to vision, blue light is here to stay. In fact, LED is expected to take 90 percent of the lighting market in the next 10 years because the lights are more energy efficient.
Be smart about your sight and find an optometrist who measures MPOD. Benchmarking your MPOD score gauges whether you’ll need supplementation. This measure can protect your eye health while you enjoy your digital devices now and in the years to come.