Guest blogger Alan Burt shares his experiences at a blue light symposium.
During the last weekend in June, I attended the 2015 New York Blue Light Symposium. As I walked across Times Square toward the hotel entrance, winding my way between the crowds of tourists taking pictures of the urban firestorm of LED billboards on their brightly backlit smartphones, I was struck by the perverse perfection of the choice of venue for an academic discussion on the emerging science of blue light.
The event was an unintentionally well-kept secret from most of the optometric community; however, as I learned over the course of 2 days of discussion and discovery, this was mainly due to the fact that much of the academic research on blue light has so far been the domain of other medical disciplines.
The speakers and attendees of the conference came from a diverse variety of backgrounds, including ophthalmology, oncology, chronobiology, industrial lighting design, computer science, environmental science, public health and local government. This breadth of scientific and academic perspective was focused on the topic of blue light and its potential to cause harm to human health and well-being.
The opening remarks were delivered by the symposium chairman, Kazuo Tsubota, MD, who has been instrumental in researching the impacts of blue light exposure at the Keio University School of Medicine’s Department of Ophthalmology. During Dr. Tsubota’s introduction, he explained how we might consider the human eye as both a camera and a clock, emphasizing that when it comes to the impacts of blue light we have three potential categories to consider: visual performance, retinal damage and circadian rhythm disruption.
These three themes will already be familiar to anyone who has attended a blue light CE lecture or followed the regular articles in this blog by Dr. Gary Morgan. However, there were a few critical differences with how these topics were addressed in the series of lectures at the Blue Light Symposium: the lectures were delivered by scientists who have spent their entire careers exploring their individual fields of research in great depth and detail. They shared a level of knowledge that gave the audience a glimpse into the well of scientific understanding and discovery that is shaping the academic conversation on blue light.