Goggles with orange lenses block blue light to help you get to sleep
Published: Tuesday, June 22, 2010, 10:30 AM     Updated: Tuesday, June 22, 2010, 10:38 AM

Americans generally don't get enough sleep. That's well known. Part of the reason, say many of the sleep-deprived, is that they have a hard time winding down and falling asleep. In recent years, sleep experts have been talking about how blue light -- the kind given off by computer screens and televisions, as well as the ambient light in your house -- can make sleep more difficult.

Why?Because blue light suppresses melatonin, the hormone that encourages slumber.Melatonin is called the sleep hormone because it reaches its maximum concentration in our bodies at night. 

Exposure to light causes the pineal gland to reduce production of melatonin. The result? A harder time falling asleep.A local group of lighting innovators, led by Richard Hansler of Pepper Pike, has come up with an item that helps people sleep, even if they've been online or watching late-night television.
They're called Zzz Glasses and were developed by Photonic Developments LLC of Walton Hills and its parent group, the Lighting Innovations Institute of John Carroll University.

The glasses are goggles with orange lenses, which block blue light.The goggles, which are large enough to wear over regular eyeglasses, block more than 95 percent of blue light. This allows the body to continue producing melatonin in a normal manner and lets the wearer still read, watch TV or work on a computer as needed, according to Hansler. 

Hansler, 85, is a physicist and a veteran researcher who worked at General Electric's lighting research division before he retired. He's been with John Carroll's Lighting Innovations since it was created in 1999.

Hansler was doing research on the impact of lighting on seasonal affective disorder. "Then I came across information that led me to realize that all the years I'd been working on making brighter and better light bulbs, I might have been hurting people," he said, referring to contributing to their lack of sleep."I came up with the idea that if we could control lighting, we could address that problem."He and his group searched for a company that could make such glasses and found one creating a similar product in Taiwan. 

They tweaked the company's product for Photonic."We wanted to make [the glasses] available to people, and because John Carroll University isn't in the business of selling products, we created Photonic Developments to do that," Hansler said.Dr. Ziad Shaman, staff physician at the Center for Sleep Medicine at MetroHealth Medical Center, says he frequently explains to patients who suffer from insomnia that the wavelength of light that suppresses melatonin falls in the blue range."TVs and computers do emit enough blue light to cause this," he says, and so does lighting in the home. "It makes your body think night is over. I tell my patients to keep light exposure to a minimum so they can get to sleep."In fact, when staff members at the sleep center have to run a test on a patient and they need light, "We put it behind them so it's not in their direct line of vision," he said.Shaman even has tried orange goggles himself, though he's not sure if they were the brand made by Photonic. "You see OK with them, and they do block the blue light."I told my patients who've asked me, if you have the money, it makes sense. The principle is valid."

Source: http://www.cleveland.com/healthfit/index.ssf/2010/06/goggles_with_orange_lenses_blo.html
June 22, 2010