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Eye health: How to take better care of your eyes while looking at screens with AOC’s Low Blue Light mode

In 2019, the amount of time we spend looking at a display is staggering. From monitors or laptop displays in our workspace or school to large screen TVs and our smartphones/tablets on the go; everywhere we turn, we are looking at displays. Hours of staring at screens might not be as harmless as it seems, current research suggests. In order to prevent harmful effects caused by certain wavelengths, AOC has stepped up and developed a Low Blue Light mode. Filtering out a certain blue light spectrum, the technology helps increase safety and wellbeing when working with monitors for any period of time.

Today’s displays emit a wide range of wavelengths

Common LCDs (liquid crystal displays) – apart from OLEDs –do not emit light directly, but use a backlight to illuminate the pixels. Since the last decade, the light source of these displays has primarily become LEDs (light emitting diodes), shifting from CFL (compact fluorescent lamps) since around 2010 due to LED’s low energy consumption. The white-light LED is essentially a bi-chromatic source that couples the emission from a blue LED (peak of emission around 450–470 nm) with a yellow phosphor (peak of emission around 580 nm) that appears white to the eye when viewed directly[1]. But how much do we know about LED backlights and if they cause any harmful effects to our vision?

Let’s check the latest research and see how AOC’s Low Blue Light mode in their monitors offers a way to alleviate these concerns.

First, let’s look at the spectrum of sunlight. Visible light is defined as light with a wavelength between 380 (blue end) and 780 nm (red end). Additionally, our eyes are hit by light from the ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) spectrum. The harmful effects of high energy UV rays are commonly known and can be minimised by using sunglasses and the physiology of the eye itself. But blue-violet wavelengths around 380-440 nm, also dubbed “High Energy Visible (HEV) Light”, passes through the eye unfiltered and reaches the retina. In comparison, UV light is absorbed in the front part of the eye and only 5% of it reaches the retina.

Blue light: detrimental for our eyes’ health

Current research based on in-vitro and rodent studies (not in humans) shows[2] that blue light exposure can trigger toxic reactions in the eyes’ photoreceptor cells. Retinal (retinaldehyde), which is the vital chemical component that triggers the chemical signalling to the brain and thereby resulting in light perception, is damaged by blue light, leading to the cells death. This permanent damage of the photoreceptor cells can lead to macular degeneration and eventually blindness. (Age-related) Macular degeneration (AMD) is the fourth[3] most common cause of blindness, according to a study in 2013.

There is also another important aspect of blue light: the sleep-wake cycle, also called circadian rhythm[4], is influenced by blue light. Short-wavelength blue light has a greater effect on phase shifting the circadian clock and supresses the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone[5].

Innovative technologies to filter harmful wavelengths

AOC offers two solutions to tackle this blue light problem. The first is a software solution, AOC’s Low Blue Light mode: It is found in almost all new AOC monitors, and can be adjusted in a wide range. In this mode, the colour temperature is slightly altered to eliminate blue tones. The colour reproduction of the monitor when using the Low Blue Light mode is only marginally changed, and in highly colour-critical work the feature can be disabled easily in the monitor’s on screen display settings.

The second option is a hardware solution, AOC’s Anti Blue Light technology: with this approach, the peak wavelength of the blue spectrum is fine-tuned to a slightly longer wavelength, from 444 nm to 464 nm. In doing so, 90% of the eye-damaging short wavelength blue light is removed and shifted to a longer wavelength, non-dangerous part of the spectrum. Because only the peak is shifted slightly, colour temperature stays the same and colour reproduction is not affected.

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AOC’s Anti Blue Light technology: Peak of the LED is shifted to longer wavelength. Blue box: Spectrum includes short wavelength harmful blue light

Orange box: Spectrum includes only 10% of short wavelength harmful blue light.

A healthier work environment with AOC monitors

Especially in a business setting, where work hours might not overlap with daylight hours, these options to filter blue light both allow users to reduce the potential damage to their eyes, but also reduces the blue light exposure which can up their melatonin production. By enabling this feature, users’ circadian rhythms will not be disturbed; they can fall asleep easily at night – as nature intended – and thus properly recharge for a new energetic day at work.

Instead of businesses opting for a costly solution by installing physical filters to each of their displays, they can choose monitors that have a built-in Low Blue Light mode, such as AOC’s. Displays from AOC are therefore the most logical and reasonable option when modernising a workspace in keeping with important requirements for health and well-being.

[1] https://www.spiedigitallibrary.org/conference-proceedings-of-spie/3002/0000/Present-performance-of-InGaN-based-bluegreenyellow-LEDs/10.1117/12.271048.short?SSO=1

[2] http://utnews.utoledo.edu/index.php/08_08_2018/ut-chemists-discover-how-blue-light-speeds-blindness

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4561509/

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4734149/

[5] https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side