On Monday, as part of a new ad campaign for Adidas, the musician and all around pot-stirrer Grimes enlightened us with the most absurd daily routine we’ve heard since Mark Wahlberg publicised his ridiculous 2 am workout schedule earlier this year.
“My training is a 360 approach,” her Instagram post begins. “I first maintain a healthy cellular routine where I maximize the function of my mitochondria with supplements such as NAD+, Acetyl L-Carnitine, Magnesium, etc…
“From that point I spend 2-4 hours in my deprivation tank, this allows me to ‘astro-glide’ to other dimensions – past, present, and future.”
The post is almost undoubtedly tongue-in-cheek, but there was one intriguing sentence that had the internet going: Wait, is that even possible?
“I have also eliminated all blue light from my vision through an experimental surgery that removes the top film of my eyeball and replaces it with an orange ultra-flex polymer that my friend and I made in the lab this past winter as a means to cure seasonal depression.”
In the past few years, people have become increasingly concerned with the blue light that comes from electronic devices. Studies have shown that it can mess with your circadian rhythm before bed, and there is some initial evidence that it might even damage the eye’s retina over time.
As such, many people have taken to wearing blue-blocking glasses, or installing apps that filter the blue light on their devices. Amidst this blue light hysteria, it’s not hard to imagine a future where some rich musician or tech bro decides to block it out entirely by slapping orange film on their eyeballs.
Sure, it sounds like an extreme measure. But it’s not actually as crazy as you might think at first.
Blue light filters are already frequently installed in people’s eyes as part of routine medical practice – cataract surgery, when the clouded lens is replaced with an artificial one, called an intraocular lens (IOL).
Some patients would report that their vision was tinted blue after the surgery, so doctors started looking into this. Since the 1990s, we’ve now had the option of yellow-tinted IOLs that, to an extent, block out some ultraviolet or blue wavelength light.
Ever since their arrival however, scientists have been hotly debating the potential benefits and harms of using these lenses, as opposed to ones that don’t filter particular wavelengths. Even today, the pros and cons remain controversial, depending on which doctor you ask.
Tie that in with the recent crusade against blue light from our devices, and you have an interesting crossover.
Some experts argue that the case against blue light has been blown way out of proportion, and that there are real benefits to this type of light, most of which is natural and comes directly from the Sun. In fact, the American Academy of Opthamology argues that many negative effects associated with blue light have more to do with how people use their screens than the type of light they emit.
In the retina, photosensitive cells are responsible for training the circadian clock, and blue light is important in waking us up in the morning. If blue light is permanently blocked, some fear our sleep and our health might be disrupted as a result.
In an article for the American Academy of Opthamology, Martin Mainster, an ophthalmologist at the University of Kansas, has said that blue-blocking IOLs force cataract surgeons to “choose fear of the unproven”.
Unlike Mainster, however, other experts think there’s little harm in using blue light filtering IOLs. Studies have shown that blue-blocking IOLs are not detrimental to visual acuity, colour perception, or contrast sensitivity. And the negative effects on sleep disturbance so far appear to be minimal, if not clinically irrelevant.
But what about those of us who haven’t had anything artificial installed in our eyes?
Just a few years ago a spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology said it would be premature to take preventative action against blue light. In fact, the organisation “does not recommend any special eyewear for computer use.”
So, for all the absurdity of her claim, Grimes wasn’t too far off the mark with her imaginary orange eye filter, since cataract IOLs have been a thing for decades.
But there’s absolutely no evidence to suggest that reduced blue light improves seasonal affective disorder, so let’s not get carried away.