Why Melanin lenses?
Dr. Nesty’s background in eye care with special interest in the aging changes that affect the eyes led to his extensive research into the detrimental effects of blue light on the human eye. Just recently this has become a “hot” topic. For many years research has shown that ultraviolet wavelengths, invisible to the human eye, contribute to the formation of cataracts, development of macular degeneration, and various forms of skin cancer. Now research on blue wavelengths and particularly what is termed HEV wavelengths have come to the forefront in research.
Blue light has the highest energy with the shortest wavelength of light visible to the human eye. Physics dictates that the shorter the wavelength the higher the energy of that light The higher the energy the more apt a wavelength is to scatter. The sun is a natural source of blue light and when that blue light hits the earth’s atmosphere it is scattered due to its high energy level. This phenomenon is the reason the sky is blue. Because the sun is a natural source for blue light the human body becomes attuned to the blue portion of the visible spectrum as a signal to “wake up and become alert”. Studies show that blue light impacts mood, cognitive function, and helps with memory.
Sun is the primary “natural” source for blue light but we are surrounded by artificial sources of blue light. Those artificial sources include: compact energy efficient fluorescent lights, LED light bulbs, LED televisions, laptops, computers, cell phones, tablets and other forms of digital devices. All are luxuries we are surrounded by daily. Surveys show that 83% of American households have some type of computer. Upwards of 93% of adults report spending more than two hours per day on some type of digital device. The Kaiser Family Foundation found that young people ages 8-18 spend an average of 7.5 hours per day on a digital device. Many levels of education now require students to have laptops and most of their schoolwork involves these electronics. One no longer has to go to the library to do research, as it is just a click away on your favorite search engine. Children are more exposed to blue light because of their anatomy. Their arms are shorter so they hold devices closer and their pupils are larger allowing more blue light to enter the eye.
Our bodies are bombarded with blue light everyday and digital devices are the source for the most harmful portion of the blue light spectrum referred to as HEV, which by the way is the least necessary portion of the blue spectrum for color perception. Digital eyestrain has become a common term in the eye health care profession. HEV blue light produces eyestrain and headaches because it reduces visual acuity due to scattering of the wavelength in the human eye. HEV can also contribute to eye health changes such as dry eye and macular degeneration, but it can also cause health and wellness issues due to disruption of the sleep cycle. To be healthy the human body requires the proper amount of sleep. Not only sleep but also the most restful sleep known as REM. Blue light triggers the brain to tell our bodies to produce less melatonin. Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland and influences our body’s circadian rhythms telling us when to be alert and when to sleep, but just as importantly, affecting the sleep rhythms. Studies show that poor sleep habits promote irritability, poor work habits, and poor health including conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Exposure to blue light (HEV) a couple hours before bed can delay and affect the quality of REM sleep significantly.
Why risk any of the above when the solution is simple? Society will never decrease dependence on LED lights, televisions, or digital devices; in fact dependence will only increase. The solution is to block the blue light (HEV) from our window to the world, our eyes. There are several types of glasses available to reduce exposure to blue light (HEV). The first and least effective on the HEV wavelength is the blue light reflecting glasses. The lenses in these glasses have a reflective coating applied that will reflect rather than transmit some of the wavelengths in the blue spectrum; however, they reflect very little of the HEV portion of the blue spectrum. These lenses are clear and can be seen to have a bluish sheen which is due to the blue light that is being reflected from, rather than transmitted through to the wearer’s eyes. The lenses are attractive in that they have no tint but really are not very effective at blocking the most harmful HEV.
The second type of lens is the type used in Solar Bat’s Computer and Gaming glasses. These lenses have the same blue light reflecting coating however the lens material is infused with melanin pigment. Melanin pigment is what gives your skin its color. Melanin is a pigment also present in the human eye that helps reduce exposure to the harmful effects of blue light (HEV). The reflective coating in addition to the melanin pigment infused into the lens material is the reason Solar Bat’s Computer and Gaming glasses give your eyes the protection they need from blue light (HEV) exposure. Solar Bat’s lenses do have the bluish sheen but in addition have a light brown tint. It is this light brown tint that evidences the fact that these lenses are giving your eyes the protection they deserve. This protection will result in less eyestrain, fewer headaches, improved eye health and more vivid vision on digital devices. I like to say, “If it isn’t brown it isn’t taking blue down”.