Blue Light and Eye Damage
Blue Light and Eye Damage are more complicated than you might have thought. That white light we see is made up of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet light. All these colors have different wavelengths and carry different amounts of energy. The red end of the spectrum has rays with longer wavelengths and less energy. On the other hand, the blue end of the spectrum has rays with shorter wavelengths and more energy.
Sources of blue light
The largest source of blue light is undoubtedly the sun. In addition to that, there are many other sources that include:
- LED light
- Fluorescent light
- Flat-screen LED TVs
- Computer monitors
- Laptops, smartphone, tablet screens
The blue light exposure from man-made sources is minuscule when compared to the blazing intensity of the sun. Even then, there’s still a lot of concern over the long-term effects of screen exposure. That’s because of all the time we spend staring at screens each day and in such close proximity.
Benefits of blue light
Blue light isn’t all bad for your health. Daytime exposure to blue light boosts alertness, reaction times, memory and cognitive function. It also directly boosts your mood which is why clear sunny mornings bring us so much joy.
Blue light also plays a major role in the regulation of your circadian rhythm. This is your biological clock that determines your natural wake and sleep cycle, amongst other things. Excessive blue light exposure from artificial lighting and too much screen-time can disrupt the circadian rhythm and affect your sleep. This is because blue light suppresses the production of the sleep hormone, melatonin, that helps induce sleep. This leads to insomnia and leaves you feeling tired the next day. Over time, sleep deprivation can even increase the risk of serious conditions like obesity, diabetes, heart problems and depression.
Additionally, blue light aids in the growth and development of eyes and vision in children. Recent studies show that a deficiency in blue light exposure may have contributed to the recent increase in near-sightedness.
How blue light affects your eyes
The eyes aren’t good at blocking blue light. This means almost all visible blue light passes through the anterior structures of the eye unhindered to reach the retina. This blue light could damage the eye and prematurely age the eyes. Evidence from early research findings show that excessive exposure to blue light could cause:
- Digital eyestrain: This is a set of symptoms that usually accompany long periods of screen time. Blue light has a tendency to scatter more easily than other rays due to its short wavelength. This leads to a lower contrast when looking at a computer screen hence contributing to digital eyestrain. The symptoms of digital eye strain include fatigue, dry eyes, blurred vision, headaches and more.
- Retinal damage: Recent studies have shown that continued exposure to intense blue light can damage the photoreceptors of the retina over time. Ultimately, you could end up with problems like age-related macular degeneration which is a leading cause of permanent blindness.
How to protect your eyes from blue light
Due to the potential harm that blue light causes, it’s important to limit your exposure to blue light. There’s a lot of ways you can do that:
- Reduce screen time: Limit the amount of time you spend using your smartphone, computer, or any other digital device. This is especially important at night in order to limit the effect of blue light on your sleep. Also, remember to take frequent breaks when working on your computer to rest your eyes. It’ll help reduce the occurrence of digital eyestrain.
- Blue light filters: If reducing your screen time proves to be difficult, consider going for screen filters for your computers, smartphones, and tablets. These filters selectively block blue light from the screen before it reaches your eyes while maintaining a clear display. They also have the added advantage of protecting your screen from damage.
- Computer glasses: These glasses are specially designed to provide optimum magnification at the viewing distance of your computer. All so that you don’t have to strain your eyes when using your computer. They also come with tints or coatings that block blue light thus helping to ease digital eye strain.
- Anti-reflective lenses: These are also called anti-glare lenses and they prevent reflections from forming on the surfaces of your glasses. Consequently, they reduce glare, enhance contrast and prevent digital eye strain.