There's still no cure for age-related macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of blindness among the elderly. However, there are a number of things that you can do to lessen your chances of getting the disease and slow its progression if you have it. One of the biggest things that you can do is buy eyewear that provides blue light protection. If you're unsure about what the big deal is with blue light, this is what you should know.
Why is blue light so bad?
The portion of the light around you that's dangerous for your vision is generally invisible. It's in the ultra-violet (UV) and blue light range spectrum, which most people don't consciously see. Primary sources include the sun, naturally, but you're also exposed to a lot of other UV and blue light through synthetic sources like fluorescent lighting and—you probably guessed it—just about every electronic device that you own. Your smartphone, reading tablet, television, and laptop all have UV and blue light emissions that can be dangerous to your eyes.
Who is most at risk of developing problems from UV and blue light?
Your risks of developing problems due to UV and blue light increase depending on your occupation or location. If you live near the water or spend a lot of time on the beach, the effects of UV light are intensified. People who spend a lot of time in the sun, like construction workers, are at higher risk of exposure. So are people who spend a great deal of time indoors, however, in office jobs under fluorescent lights and in front of computer screens.
There are also people with chronic medical conditions that require them to take medications that can make them more susceptible to the harmful effects of UV and blue light. These photosensitizing drugs range from everything from antibiotics to oral contraceptives, but they also include many blood pressure medications and diabetic medications.
You may also be at increased risk simply because of genetics and age. If you have a close family member with macular degeneration, you're more likely to be at risk yourself. As you age, the buildup of UV exposure adds to your risk and the loss of your body's natural melanin (which also causes your hair to go gray or white) leaves you less protected.
What can you do to reduce your risk?
One of the easiest things that you can do to reduce your risk is cover your eyes! There are a lot of eyewear options now that are designed specifically to filter out UV and blue light for both indoor and outdoor use. If you're primarily an "indoors" person whose blue light exposure is coming from computer screens and overhead lights, you can get special ophthalmic lenses with a blue light filter coating. If you need additional protection, tinted lenses are an option that you can consider as well. Discuss the option with your eye doctor to see if he or she has a specific recommendation based on your occupation and hobbies.
If you're an "outdoors" sort of person, you want sunglasses with UV filters. If you wear glasses anyhow, consider lenses that are photosensitive and able to adjust according to changing amounts of light. That way, you don't have to worry about picking sunglasses that are too dark to be useful all the time.
One of the big things to keep in mind is that every day counts when it comes to UV and blue light exposure because damage is cumulative, and age-related macular degeneration is progressive. The sooner you start taking steps to avoid UV and blue light exposure, the better your chances of avoiding the disease altogether. Talk to a company like Macuhealth for more information.