#5 Chroma Glasses & High Power Density Near-IR; Research Roundup

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(Update: We are rebranding. Fountain Portal is now Chroma [tm]. Instagram @getChroma.coTwitter @getChromaFacebook @getChroma)

Announcing the Chroma Night Specs [tm]

Originally announced in our Facebook Group as the first and only high-gamut blue blockers, let’s explore what that means. First, we need to understand the primary cells in the eye that respond to different wavelengths of light and how blue-blockers in general work. Let’s break down what the following graph means.

S (dark blue curve) = short wavelength sensing cones i.e. perceived as blue.

Mel (light blue curve) = melanopsin containing cells i.e. the circadian wakefulness/sleep controller. This is what we want to either stimulate (daytime) or avoid simulating (nighttime).

R (dark green curve) = rods [ignore] helps you see motion and in very dim conditions.

M (light green curve) = medium wavelength sensing cones i.e. perceived as green.

L (red curve) = long wavelength sensing cones i.e. perceived as red

[Numbers on the bottom are wavelengths. The colors/numbers shown are a bit off. Based on the colors shown, it should be only 700 all the way on the right. The Wikipedia page on cones has a better image.]

How “blue-blocking” works

If you block out blue light corresponding to blue, you also block about half the melanopic lux. Blocking green light as well, up to 570 nm is the only way to remove almost all the melanopic lux. The downside to this is that everything looks red, and also becomes rather dark. That is why most blue-blocking glasses go with far less effective yellow, orange, or light red tints. Moreover, “blocking” is not actually how a lens works. At each wavelength, some percentage of light is absorbed. Many yellow/orange glasses not only let in green light, but might let in >10% right at the peak sensitivity of the melanopsin curve at 480 nm. Daytime “blue-blocking” glasses are a completely different product related to eyestrain, for which there is far less compelling research. Moreover, daytime glasses pose a risk of worsening sleep since they reduce that signal for wakefulness.

The Chroma Night Spec violet innovation

Blocking blue light is only correlated to (partially) blocking melanopic lux, but on the far left side, in the violet range, the melanopic sensitivity is very low. So instead of allowing more green light to see more colors, which can increase melanopic lux >100 fold compared to a dark red pair of blue-blockers (Carbonshade, which I built originally pioneered this), it is possible to add violet light instead. This light is mostly in the 400 to 430 nm range. The end result is a transmission spectrum that looks a bit like a U, with an opposite shape as the melanopsin curve (dips low to maximally block light at the peak melanopsin sensitivity, then gradually rises on either side).

This results in a reddish lens with a slightly pink hue. It lets in far more color than the standard Carbonshades, with only a slight reduction in efficacy. Light induced melatonin suppression has a dose-response so you don’t need 99.8% light reduction all the time, although some prefer this for the last 15-30 minutes before bed.

This violet lens tech is proprietary to Chroma so we are not planning to release it for now. You might think, “how can I know how well it works if I don’t have that data?” Well, it’s very interesting because the reality is you would still not know even if you saw the graph because you don’t know the spectrum of the light coming in!

You can know the light spectrum being emitted from lightbulbs in your vicinity, but unless all you’re doing in the evenings is staring into lightbulbs, that’s not the light you’re actually getting. You get that spectrum, multiplied by the reflectance spectrum of the world around you, which of course varies dramatically from object to object. Not to mention the ABSOLUTE levels of brightness vary wildly indoors at night. It would be very difficult to define a “typical environment,” and even then, the scientific data on dose response comes nowhere close to being able to comment on this. The general heuristics work far better.

Background and Timeline

I actually built these glasses for myself well before I was planning on selling them with Chroma and I have used these regularly instead of my Carbonshades without any issues. That’s more meaningful to me than contrived estimates of melanopic lux. Given the fact that Carbonshade is nowhere close to being the market leader, that is also an indicator that precisely communicating specs that indicate superiority are fairly uncorrelated to market success. You’d be amazed how many people don’t intuitively grasp that a clear lens cannot be blocking out much light of any color, or why blocking blue and green requires that a lens appear dark red.

ETA on Chroma Night Specs: ~3 months. We did other cool stuff like make the frames carbon fiber along with a higher performance lens material than anything out there now (as might be expected for an aerospace/materials person working on this sort of stuff)… you’ll have to wait until it launches to find out about the lens material!


Circadian Rhythms & Visible Light Research

Health consequences of circadian disruption [letter to the editor]

Many clinicians are not fully aware, however, of the far-reaching implications of the circadian system for human health. …

Many disease states may be caused or exacerbated by exposure to circadian misalignment

I don’t need to “know more” than MDs, I just need to know where to focus alongside a bit of math and engineering experience. Nassim Taleb recently conveyed the problem well.

Perfect timing: circadian rhythms, sleep, and immunity — an NIH workshop summary

The goal of the NIH Workshop was to highlight recent basic and clinical research advances in sleep and circadian biology linking immune dysfunction to pathobiology, and to foster interdisciplinary conversations that could point toward future research objectives.

My newsletter and products are more impactful than your workshop. What good is looking into all the minutiae if almost no one is implementing the very basics in their lives? It is almost theatrical. Thanks from coming to my TED talk.

Early-evening light mitigates the sleep disruptive effects of late-evening light exposure

Yes, this is just the effect of getting bright light during the day and doing it once toward the end of the day period i.e. early evening is better than not at all. This is why daytime blue-blockers are dumb. It is much better to add in the right type of light that is less harmful, which causes pupil dilation so a lower portion of high intensity blue light from monitors comes on. The other approach, which works well in parallel is adding deep red light. This concept is the basis of the Portal, and the possibility of a radically different implementation will be explored in the next newsletter.

Assessing the impact of daylight exposure on sleep quality of people over 65 years old

Bright light during the day improves sleep. One noteworthy aspect of this study is the comparison between summer and winter conditions — it is not just light, but temperature that varies greatly. Colder conditions improve sleep, but this shows one instance where light has a larger effect. Where did this study take place? — London. Not very hot there even in the summer. Heat/cold can be the most important variable if it is obtrusive, just like a person sitting next to you playing the drums would suddenly become the most important variable impacting your sleep. If it’s too hot (doesn’t take much) your sleep will be impaired, but after that is solved, light needs to be the focus.

The effects of melatonin on signaling pathways and molecules involved in glioma

Melatonin regulates the biologic rhythm and inhibits the proliferation of malignant glioma cells due to antioxidant and anti-apoptotic effects. …

Melatonin is secreted by the pineal glands and plays a main role in the regulating of biological rhythms and endocrine function [12, 20]. In addition, there are various sites of melatonin production, including testis [21], platelets [22] and lymphocytes [23]. …

High levels of melatonin synthesis in mitochondria are very toxic to GBM/GSC [glioblastoma / glioblastom stem-like cells]

Melatonin and Glioblastoma: Pathophysiology and Treatment [Editorial re. above]

The interactions of exogenous melatonin with GBM/GSC circadian genes will be important for future research

Or, you know, get it it endogenously as a starting point.

All-trans-retinal induces autophagic cell death via oxidative stress and the endoplasmic reticulum stress pathway in human retinal pigment epithelial cells

Short wavelength blue light (~440 nm, typical white LED peaks here) triggers all-trans-retinal about an order of magnitude* more than long wavelength blue light (~480 nm, peak melanopsin sensitivity and where white LEDs have a massive dip i.e. the cyan gap). *see figure 3b

Impact of circadian disruption on glucose metabolism: implications for type 2 diabetes

Experimental evidence indicates that circadian disruption impairs beta cell function and insulin sensitivity, resulting in impaired glucose tolerance (Fig. 4). Circadian disruptions acutely impact glycaemic control and thereby may increase the risk for impaired glucose tolerance and the transition to diabetes

Melatonin rescues osteoporosis by upregulating BMMSCs’ osteogenic ability but suppressing BMMSC‐mediated osteoclastogenesis via MT2‐inactivated NF‐𝜅B pathway

Bone loss and microstructure disorder in mice were profoundly reversed after melatonin treatment, as an integrated result of anabolic and anti‐resorptive effects.


Want a free pair of Chroma Night Specs?

If you stayed until the end, here’s a photo of our compact, high power near-IR prototype since we didn’t have one when we originally announced it in a previous newsletter.

>300 watts 😳 That's more near-IR power than a "1200 watt" standard mixed wavelength panel, concentrated into a much smaller unit. Maybe we'll have an option with even more than just 10-20x the power density of what is available now...
February 6, 2020

Contest: What should we name this near-IR brick of sorts? If you give us a name that we end up using, we’ll send you a free pair of Night Specs! All you have to do is share this post on FB, Insta, or Twitter with your name suggestions — make sure to tag us so we see it. You can offer as many suggestions as you want.