With the world becoming increasingly digital, the amounts of hours we spend in front of either a computer, television, tablet or phone screen continue to increase. These screens, together with LED lights and OLED, can be a bit problematic. There have been studies that suggest that two-third of people are staring at a digital device for over 6 hours in a day. This can be quite unsettling considering the potentially dangerous light we are exposed to in the process.
For many years, there have been numerous researches aiming to check whether blue light is harmful to our eyes or not. There have been different findings with different suggestions to mitigate the effects. Blue light blocking glasses are considered as the most effective means of reducing risk.
In a couple of minutes, you would find out how blue light affects you, but first…
What Is Blue Light?
You are aware that sunlight is capable of burning or tanning your skin due to the visible and invisible light rays that it contains. What you do not know is that the rays of light that the sun emits come in a range of colors, from red, orange, yellow, green to blue. Therefore, blue light is one of the lights on the visible light spectrum.
Each color on the spectrum has different energy amounts as well as wavelength. Red light is at the end of the visible light spectrum, and it has long wavelengths but less energy. Research says that the most harmful wavelength for people with light sensitivity issues is around 480nm. This causes problems for them and falls close to green and blue lights. Green light is in-between while blue is at the other end.
Blue light has a much higher concentration with very short wavelengths around 380 – 500nm. It is the closest to ultraviolet (UV) light on the invisible lights spectrum. UV light is known to be dangerous, contributing to different eye problems, including cataracts and pterygia, while there are also suggestions that it causes macular degeneration.
Sources of Blue Light
Headlights, light bulbs, computer, and TV screens all emit blue light. However, the highest source of blue light emission is sunlight. The sun emits all the colors, even though we do not perceive them. That is why sunlight is known as white light. Consequently, the sources of blue light can be summed up as follows:
- Computer and television screens;
- Smartphone and tablet screens;
- Fluorescent, LED, and compact fluorescent lights.
How Does Blue Light Affect the Eyes?
Just as staring directly at the sun is harmful to the eyes, staring at different screens that emit blue light is also dangerous. Other sources apart from the sun produce less blue light emission, but the considerable amount of hours we spend on them could be telling. Blue light is low-cost and energy-efficient; it also has benefits such as helping regulate the circadian rhythm and enhance cognitive function and alertness.
However, overexposure to blue light is a massive problem for our eyes and our general health. It is also responsible for a couple of adverse effects that our eyes undergo. Exposing our eyes to blue light, particularly at night, may disrupt our natural sleep patterns. This can cause tiredness in the morning.
Another adverse effect of blue light is digital eye strain. Although this condition is a temporary one, it has grown largely prevalent, especially among technology-driven individuals. Digital eye strain is caused by staring too long at screens of televisions, computer monitors, smartphones, and electronic readers. This is because staring at blue light causes you to blink less, and your eyes may receive less wetness.
Individuals who frequently work in offices where they use computers are more prone to this condition. These people may experience symptoms from time to time – symptoms such as headaches, poor sleep, light sensitivity, blurred vision, sore neck, and itchy or dry eyes.
How to Reduce Exposure to Blue Light
Now that you know how blue light can affect you, it’s essential to state ways to reduce your exposure and its harmful effects. Prevention is by far the way out of this mess since the eyes cannot block blue lights by themselves. You have to reduce how much time you spend staring into those devices, especially when it’s dark. That’s because the darkness in the surroundings increases the risks. If you cannot do without looking at blue light, you should consider reducing the device’s brightness. A lower brightness would lower the amount of blue light emitted.
Blue light blocking glasses have become more popular, and they are effective at helping you reduce the amount of blue light you are exposed to due to their special tinted lenses. They are available in different ranges and may be prescribed or not.
You can also use the 20-20-20 rule, which suggests taking a 20-second break for staring at an object 20 feet from you for every 20 minutes of staring at a screen. Also, get rid of devices 2 hours before going to bed so that your eyes can relax. Finally, eat good food such as fruits and vegetables and take supplements containing eye-strengthening nutrients like vitamin A.Last modified: January 13, 2021