By Guest Contributor, Nicola Mills
Employees today are exposed to more potentially damaging blue light than ever before. Emitted from mobile devices, office computers,and lighting, it’s an ever-present feature of our digital times. But did you know blue light can cause serious damage to the eyes, and can even lead to blindness?
Scientists at Harvard University studied the effects of superfoods on the visual health of more than 100,000 people. They found that eating a diet rich in certain key superfoods protected against visual degeneration. Check out the infographic below for a summary of this study.
With employers keen to protect the health of their workers, and many of us working well into our senior years, nobody can afford to turn a blind eye to the science.
The Lowdown on Blue Light
So why is blue light so harmful to our eyes?
It turns out blue light has a higher frequency than other parts of the visible light spectrum. This means blue light rays vibrate with more energy, and that can cause damage to your eye’s macula. This highly-pigmented area of your retina usually filters out harmful blue light, but repeated damage over time leaves it unable to carry out its function. So those damaging blue light rays emit a direct hit on your retina.
Advanced macular degeneration (or AMD) is one of the leading causes of blindness. Ten percent of people over 65 and 30 percent of people over 75 suffer from AMD. And with the increase in digital technology, and a rise in office-based occupations, it makes sense to assume this statistic could be higher in future generations.
Where Do Superfoods Come In?
Harvard researchers found that certain nutrients, namely lutein and zeaxanthin, are vital to the health of our eyes. These helpful carotenoids significantly boost the macula’s ability to filter out blue light.
That said, a healthy dose of skepticism should always be applied to new dietary fads. However, the Harvard study has some serious credentials and shows there is science behind superfoods.
As the largest study of its kind, it followed 102,046 participants over the course of 20 years, proving that people who eat plenty of lutein and zeaxanthin are 40 percent less likely to suffer advanced age-related macular degeneration.
That’s pretty convincing evidence telling us it’s worth eating healthy now in order to reduce our chances of age-related sight degeneration later.
What Superfoods Should We Be Eating?
Before you say anything, no it’s not carrots!
Topping the list is everyone’s favorite leafy green, kale. It’s the superfood with the highest levels of lutein and zeaxanthin. Raw cress, raw or cooked spinach, and green peas are also good choices. Our moms always told us to eat our greens!
Visual impairment can have a huge impact on quality of life. It’s up to both employers and employees to protect against the potential damage of blue light.
We’d love to see workplaces providing healthy superfoods and maximizing the natural light in offices to achieve this. Blue light-blocking eyewear and screen protectors, along with orange office lighting, are also clever options for protecting against macular degeneration. Minimizing blue light has also been shown to improve sleep quality, and improve overall well-being – and that’s always good for employee morale.