Colour tolerance and myopia

I’ve mentioned before that my partner really hates coloured light.  I haven’t tried that many colours on him, just the blue lightbox and a range of yellow and amber bulbs, but he has strongly disliked all of them.  My eye specialist has finally given a reason for why this might be the case. Colour, she says, is very important to myopes (short-sighted folks), and the more myopic you are, the more colour will matter to you.  I’m fairly fussy about colour myself, I can’t stand fluorescent light (though that’s probably a case of colour and flicker) and I’m very picky about colours when it comes to reading and tinted lenses, though I don’t know how far that is caused by having Meares-Irlen Syndrome.  I’d be curious to test my partner some time and see how much colour he can tolerate, if there are any colours he finds easier than others, or if he’s only really happy when the light is white or close to it.  I mentioned to the eye specialist that I find yellow and orange light mercifully comfortable, and she said, “Oh yes, yellow light is very soothing for the eyes.”  For reference, here is how myopia is usually categorised:

0 to -3: mild myopia
-3 to -6: moderate myopia
-6 to -10: severe myopia
over -10: extreme myopia (not usually listed as it’s so rare)

Including astigmatism, I’m about -7, so my eyesight’s worse than that of most people but I still know a fair few people who are at a similar level to me.  My partner, on the other hand, is about -19.  Before I met him, the worst myopia I’d encountered was one guy at -12 and a woman at -10.  Several opticians he’s been to have never seen myopia as bad as his, although it’s by no means the worst around.

So his reaction is unlikely to be the norm, and even my degree of fussiness about light colour seems fairly unusual.  To people who have tried different coloured light or lenses, are you myopic, and have you found difficulty in tolerating the colour?

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5 Comments on “Colour tolerance and myopia”

  1. Robert Says:

    The DYI dawn simulator I use are now 2. Each one uses 30 LED blueish-white “bulbs” for 1 Watt Max(do they mean each individual LED or the entire lamp? it’s hard to tell). One of them goes on at 5:30 AM, the other goes on at 6:00 AM(they both turn off around 8:00 AM). They don’t always wake me up, but I’m out of bed by 6:30 AM usually. If they do wake me up, they are somewhat annoying and I usually turn my head to avoid looking at the light. I think I feel better when I wake up to them. Here is the exact model – http://www.beso.com/hampton-bay-brushed-nickel-led-desk-lamp/1719062953/detail

    The luminosity of one of these LED lamps would be insufficient if I were to use them for reading, but they are bright enough to function as dawn simulators which I now realize do not need to be as bright as light boxes. Even light boxes don’t need to be so bright, as color is more important that lux according to studies. So I may just go through with hooking up some clip-on blue LEDs to a visor and walk around with them in the morning or wear it while I eat breakfast. I ordered some blue LEDs and they should be coming soon, just need to find a large enough visor to clip them to. I already have some white LEDs but they don’t fit and it may be too intense.

    Very fascinating post about myopia and color. I didn’t know this before. Luckily my own vision is 20/20 so I don’t have myopia or wear glasses and colored lighting hardly bothers me. The same goes for the orange glasses not bothering me.

    On the other hand, I’ve tried to get my near-sighted mother(she has brown eyes) to wear the orange glasses to help treat her chronic insomnia. I’ve also tried replacing her regular bulbs with yellow and orange ones. She tells me she never wears the glasses anymore, they are too annoying, and hates the colored lights and switched back. They didn’t help her at all either.

    My brown-eyed, near-sighted brother doesn’t have bad case of insomnia, but I’ve let him try out the orange glasses too. He doesn’t care for them either and luckily doesn’t need them.

    So it does appear that near-sighted people generally do have trouble with colored lights, light filters and fluorescents.

    I’ve also been exploring the connection between sleep and gender. It seems women are more likely to suffer from insomnia than men, and this may be due to hormones. I’m also trying to find a good eye mask for traveling. I can’t find a good one in local stores – they are uncomfortable, some light gets through and they always come off when I sleep. Best to you!


  2. I think I know those bulbs, are you using the little golf ball ones? They’re 1W for the total bulb. Do you mean that you have two little bulbs linked to timers, so that one comes on completely and then the other does a bit later? That’s not actually dawn simulation! The important thing with dawn simulation is that the light comes on gradually. It doesn’t seem to matter much what sort of light it is, it’s the gradual increase that matters.

    So what you’re doing probably won’t be as effective as dawn simulation, but on the other hand it’s probably reasonably helpful in training your circadian clock, especially since white LEDs have so much blue in them. I’d be curious to see a study comparing that approach to standard dawn simulation.

    I actually tried this technique myself a while back, using a 1W blue LED bulb on a timer. I found it too annoying, the light was enough to wake me instantly rather than gradually, and while those bulbs seem dim in a bright room, they’re surprisingly invasive if the room is dark. The whole idea of dawn simulation is that it affects your sleep cycles and brings you to the right point in your sleep cycle to wake up, and just turning a light on doesn’t have that effect. I’d set it to come on when the dawn simulator was partially on, but as I said, the blue bulb wasn’t as dim as I’d thought, and instead of blending seamlessly into the dawn simulation and adding some useful blue light, it was just jarring.

    I’d love to see a gadget which could combine bright light therapy, dawn simulation, daytime lighting darkness therapy, and do the whole thing on a timer, so that the lighting for your entire day would be controlled to resemble natural conditions as far as possible, though of course tailored to fit your lifestyle (getting up at 4 am is not what most people want).

    Blue LEDs for the visor sound sensible, since I think glare is more of a problem the closer the light is to your eyes, and blue light therapy is far gentler.

    Interesting feedback about your relatives with myopia. Any idea how short-sighted they are? Are the lenses of their glasses substantially thicker than the frames, for instance? People tend to be incredibly subjective when describing myopia. I used to call myself “blind as a bat” until I met my partner, and I always laugh when I encounter someone with mild myopia who says they’re practically blind (i.e. their vision without glasses is about as bad as my partner’s vision when he’s wearing his glasses!). We both have brown eyes, by the way.

    My mother, also brown-eyed and with rather complicated vision, keeps meaning to try the coloured lights/lenses. I should definitely try her on bulbs first, since not everyone likes the colour plus she has complex eye conditions.

    Do you find that you have preferences with regard to colour on websites and the like?

  3. Robert Says:

    I don’t have any strong color preferences on websites or otherwise. As far as my “dawn simulator” goes, I realize it isn’t really a dawn simulator, but it’s good enough for me and it doesn’t immediately wake me up either(which is good).

    My “dawn simulator” lamps have 30 tiny LED “bulbs”(sort of like mini golf balls) each, and they emit blueish-white light.

    I just got this tiny blue LED light that I clipped to this large visor of mine, and I wear it in the morning for 20 minutes(its the Ionva microlight – http://www.google.com/products/catalog?hl=en&q=inova+microlight&um=1&ie=UTF-8&cid=9632292790028054459&ei=fFz1S5ejEoL88Abfw_XtCg&sa=X&oi=product_catalog_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CDoQ8wIwAg#.) I think it helps wake me up, but it could be the placebo effect or my imagination. I may get a larger blue LED light soon, since these may be too small. I’m still trying to figure out what amount of lux or lumens of blue light is sufficient for resetting the circadian rhythm or treating SAD. It would be great to know the minimum, but we want beyond the minimum obviously.

    Some good news – My brother, who only occasionally has sleeping problems now tells me the orange glasses do help him fall asleep faster and earlier, so he is wearing them every night now. Maybe it took longer for the orange glasses to work for him due to his nearsightedness(and brown eyes?). I hope you can find a solution for your mother.

    Do red lenses block blue light more effectively than orange lenses? I realize they are much more difficult to see through than orange, but just curious. Good luck with your sleep.


  4. How is your clip-on blue light coming along? And the DIY not-quite-dawn-simulator? The thing to remember with lux that it’s light at a certain distance. The closer the light to your eyes, the less light is needed. So lightboxes should really say “10,000 lux at 40 cm” although some of them fudge that part and don’t mention that it’s only 10,000 lux if it’s practically up against your nose. We know that 10,000 lux isn’t needed for blue light, but it’s not certain exactly how much is needed. I read an article somewhere (I think you may have been the one linking to it, come to think of it) talking about how lux isn’t a great measurement, it’s very much tailored towards a specific type of white light and falls down completely with, say, blue light.

    I haven’t tried red lenses, they’d make everything darker and monochrome and I can’t afford to buy more tinted prescription specs, but I’m curious too. The LowBlueLights.com chap was commenting the other week and said that orange is the best, can’t remember exactly why, but he did say that you need to block anything below 520nm. One of the sleep blogs I link to on my Links page, the Sandman Is From Mars One, uses yellow/orange lighting for two hours followed by one hour of red lighting before bed, as well as the orange/amber specs. I’m hoping to move to a bigger flat this year, with a separate sewing room for me, and I’ll probably do more advanced messing around with coloured light in that, since I won’t have to worry about inflicting it on my partner.

    I can’t think of any reason why myopia would mean that it would take longer for the darkness therapy to work, but it might make it take longer for the person to adjust and find it visually comfortable, and thus use it more consistently?

  5. Robert Says:

    I’ve been having mixed results with my blue LED lights. Recently, I attached a blue LED necklace to this large visor and wear it in the morning. Unfortunately, the light can only blink instead of holding steady. I think it helps a little, but I think the light-box is more helpful. There are about 5 LED lights in this necklace, and I think I can only clearly see 3 or 4, and they are about 4 inches from my eyes.

    I’ll be trying some blue LED glasses next to see what happens. According to this page(you probably saw it already), only 5 lux of blue light is necessary for relief of SAD symptoms – http://www.neuropsychiatryreviews.com/sep06/blue.html

    An even smaller amount of blue light can reduce sleepiness – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19637049


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