According to recent studies, 60% of people spend as much as 6 hours a day in front of a digital device whether it is a computer, tablet, smartphone or other gadget. All of these devices emit blue light or high-energy visible (HEV) light, which is a known cause of computer vision syndrome, sleep disruptions and possibly other potential dangers to the eyes. Blue light radiation is also emitted from television screens, electronic devices. fluorescent and LED lighting and yes, even the sun.
Blue Light Basics
Emitted from the sun, blue light is naturally occurring in the world around us. On the spectrum of visible light (light that humans can see), blue light has the highest energy and the shortest wavelength. It is also sometimes known as blue-violet or violet light, which is where ultraviolet (UV) light rays that are just beyond our perception get their name. Much like ultraviolet light, blue light has both dangers and benefits to our health, particularly to our eyes.
What are the Potential Dangers of Blue Light?
Research is still being done to determine the long-term effects of blue light or high-energy visible (HEV) light emission, however it is known is that blue light is a cause of computer vision syndrome (CVS) and sleep disruptions.
The high energy and shorter wavelengths of blue or HEV light emit a less consistent flow of light, creating a glare or flickering that can cause eye strain. Because sharpness and visual contrast are affected by this, the eyes have to work harder to see clearly. After extended periods of time this can result in headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes, and mental and physical fatigue.
Natural blue light in the atmosphere is known to help regulate the body’s circadian rhythm (which controls your sleep cycles), to boost your mood and level of alertness and to improve memory and cognitive function. However, prolonged exposure to artificial sources of blue light has been shown to reverse these positive effects, causing disruptions in the circadian rhythm which affects sleep, as well as an increased risk of depression. Studies show that using a digital device before bedtime can negatively impact ther amount and quality of your sleep.
Researchers at Harvard University have shown that over time, prolonged exposure to blue light can cause damage to the retina at the back of your eye, which may lead to age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and possibly other serious health and vision problems. AMD is a leading cause of vision loss and low vision.
How Can You Protect Yourself from Blue Light Emissions?
As the dangers of blue light from digital devices emerge, more and more options are becoming available to protect your eyes. The eyes have very limited natural ability to block out blue light radiation so we need to be aware of blue light exposure and how to minimize it.
Computer glasses with blue-blocking lenses, coatings and filters are a good solution for those working on a computer for long periods of time each day. You can also add anti-glare coatings with blue light protection to your regular eyeglass and sunglass lenses. Additionally, there are filters available for devices such as computers, smartphones and tablets, to reduce the amount of blue light radiation that can reach your eyes.
The easiest way to reduce blue light exposure is to take frequent breaks when working on a computer and to reduce screen time overall.
Q&A with Dr. Brandon Chester | Blue Light
Blue light comes from digital devices like your cell phone, computer screen and IPAD. The biggest source of blue light is still the sun. Our eyes absorb this blue light which can potentially have an effect on our long-term vision. Because we are using more digital devices and staring at computer screens on an everyday basis, it is important to protect our eyes from blue light absorption.
There are several ways you can protect your eyes from blue light. Our practice recommends Crizal Prevencia anti-glare coating, Transitions adaptive lenses, and or Eyezen lenses to reduce your exposure to blue light. Our Chillicothe, Greenfield and Waverly locations all offer these lens enhancements. As always, don’t forget to wear sun protection when you’re outdoors!
Yes, blue light is being absorbed by your children as well. In fact, most kids are using digital devices at an earlier age, so their increased exposure to blue light is happening at a greater rate. Feel free to ask our staff in Chillicothe, Greenfield or Waverly about what can be done to your child’s lenses to help reduced blue light exposure. Our goal is to reduce your child’s risk for vision problems as they age, and blue light protection is one of the many ways to achieve this.