Blue light is also called high-energy visible light (HEV), as it has the shortest wavelength in the visible light spectrum and thus the highest energy. We are exposed to blue light from both natural sunlight and artificial sources such as fluorescent lights, computer monitors, smartphone screens, and other digital devices.
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Many health care professionals are concerned about the growing amount of time people spend on these digital devices because of the possible long-term effects of blue light on eye health. Research has confirmed that blue light can harm vision, from retinal damage in the short term to macular degeneration in the long term.
What about skin? Can exposure to blue light damage and age our skin? This is a valid concern because, compared to the UVB and UVA rays that can cause skin aging and burning, blue light penetrates the skin more deeply – all the way into the dermis. It can potentially generate free radicals (also known as reactive oxygen species, or ROS), which cause skin cells to produce enzymes that destroy the collagen and elastin in the process called oxidative stress. Exposure to short-term, controlled doses of blue light has been used in therapy to treat acne, eczema, and psoriasis. However, studies have shown that high-dose exposure cause prolonged hyperpigmentation and changes in expression of biomarkers in the dermis.
Growing awareness of blue light’s effects on skin is generating interest among researchers, product formulators, and consumers alike. Stephens & Associates now has established a method of assessing skin damage from blue light and protection capabilities from products. The study design uses a standardized blue-light source and varied exposure times to assess products’ “anti-blue” capabilities and support possible claims. To learn more about how we can assess your product’s “anti-blue” capabilities, contact Dr. Lily Jiang at Stephens.