Does blue light affect your eyesight? Or is it just an urban myth? Technological advancements in the past two decades have given way to a more device-driven lifestyle. Many people spend hours on their phones and other electronic devices daily: scrolling through social media and newsfeeds, texting, binge watching television shows, playing games, and more. Recent news stories warn of the negative risks involving overexposure to the blue light that these devices give off. Some devices now have a feature that limits the amount of blue light emitted from the screen. So, with our heads often facing downward and buried in our phones and tablets, how much blue light, if any, is safe?
What Is Blue Light? First, it’s important to note that blue light is everywhere—not just in our computer screens, electronics, flat screen televisions, and LED lights. The natural light spectrum includes all colors of the rainbow, from red to violet/blue. The red part of the light spectrum has longer wavelengths and produces less energy. Blue light has shorter wavelengths and produces more energy. That’s why ultraviolet light can change your skin, causing a sunburn and skin cancer. The amount of blue light given off by electronics is only a fraction of that given off by the sun. But eye doctors have been concerned about the overexposure to blue light due to the amount of time people spend using their devices.
The Truth about Blue Light The eyes are not especially proficient in blocking blue light. We wear sunglasses to protect us from the ultraviolet (blue range) light that comes from the sun. Wearing sun protection helps prevent a variety of eye damage and diseases.
Eye strain / digital eye strain
Virtually all visible blue light passes through the cornea and eye lens and reaches the retina. Our eyes have no natural safeguards to protect them from this damage. In fact, laboratory studies have shown that overexposure to any kind of blue light can damage the light-sensitive cells in the retina. Research has also shown that computer glasses with yellow-tinted lenses may reduce the contrast and absorption of blue light when using electronic devices for an extended time. Even with this information, it’s still not clear how much exposure to man-made blue light is too much.
Why Blue Light Is Good So, should we eliminate our exposure to blue light altogether? Definitely not. Blue light is still essential to some functions. Some exposure to blue light is helpful for mood stabilization as well as maintaining your circadian rhythms. Some people who are exposed to less blue light in the winter months suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). If you suffer from SAD, you can buy a special indoor light that gives off more blue light.
Protecting Yourself from Too Much Blue Light Until we know how much blue light exposure is too much, it’s best to take steps to take care of our eyes today. One thing we do know is that too much blue light exposure before bedtime—for both adults and children—can affect the sleep cycle. So, it’s best to not use your devices for at least one hour before bedtime. In addition, here are a few more tips to protect your eyes from too much blue light exposure.
Use blue light reduction on all of your devices (found in the device settings).
Use a blue light filter (screen protector or tempered glass screen protector).
Use computer glasses (with a yellow tint).
Some lens manufacturers have developed glare-reducing coatings that block blue light.