Fortunately there are some simple steps you can take to protect your eyesight.

Most visible light is essential to our well-being and contributes to critical functioning such as improving our memory and cognitive performance and regulating our sleep-wake cycle. However, some visible and non-visible light such as ultraviolet (UV) and blue-violet light is harmful and can lead to sunburn, eyestrain, cataracts, or macular degeneration.

“We use our computers and smartphones all the time without thinking, over time, that does cause some issues.”

“Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness for people 65 years old and up in North America,” says Dr. Thomas Noël, optometrist and President of Ottawa’s McLeod Optometry Clinic. “Within the last few years, research has started showing us that blue-violet light causes an increase in macular degeneration.”

Blue-violet light is inescapable in our modern world

While many people are already aware of the dangers of UV light and have taken precautions toward protecting their eyes, news that blue-violet light can have grave consequences continues to catch people off-guard.  This knowledge gap is especially concerning because blue-violet light is not only present outdoors — all year round whatever the weather — but also indoors in fluorescent lighting. As well, it exists in the LEDs incorporated into most modern lighting and devices such as laptops, smart phones, and tablets.

“We use our computers and smartphones all the time without thinking,” says Dr. Noël who is also President of the College of Optometrists of Ontario. “Over time, that does cause some issues.”

Protect yourself today to save your vision in the future

There are a number of ways you can protect your eyes and preserve your long-term vision health. Wearing glasses with lenses that offer 100 percent UV protection is an excellent place to start and will help protect you from cataracts. But, what many people don’t know is up to 50 percent of UV rays bounce off the back of the lens and hit the eye directly. It is important to ensure a coating is also applied to the back side of the lens to prevent UV rays from reaching your crystalline lens. For the most comprehensive protection, you may choose a lens coating that also prevents blue-violet light from reaching your retinas and harming your eyesight.

When purchasing sunglasses, polarized lenses will cut harmful blue light and offer 100 percent protection from UV rays coming from the front; it is crucial they also have a coating on the back side of the lens to prevent UV rays reflecting in your eyes. Photochromic lenses — the lenses that are clear indoors and darken outdoors — are an excellent way to ensure your eyes are protected at all times when combined with the same coatings as clear lenses.

It is important to protect your eyes at all times to avoid short-term discomfort such as sunburn caused by UV rays or eyestrain caused by blue-violet light, and to protect against long-term damage which can lead to cataracts and macular degeneration.