As with most things in life, moderation is key when it comes to blue light. Whilst blue light is neither good nor bad, how and when we are exposed to it can make a difference to our eye health.
Blue light is part of the visible light spectrum from the sun which; combined with red, orange, yellow, green, indigo and violet light; makes up the white light we see. Blue light reaches deeper into the eye than UV light and cumulative exposure can cause damage to the retina. While the largest source of blue light is sunlight, we are also exposed to it from other sources including:
- Fluorescent light
- LED lighting
- Flat screen televisions
- Computer monitors, smart phones, and tablet screens
Your body has a natural circadian rhythm which tells your body when to sleep and when to wake. One of the main influencers of this rhythm is your eyes exposure to blue light. Your eyes have cells that absorb blue light and signal the brain to turn off melatonin production. Melatonin is necessary for sleep, and when it is suppressed at night (when it should be increasing), it can affect sleep quality. This is why it is common to hear many people advise minimal use of screens (and blue light) at night time to ensure a good night’s sleep.
Another concern with blue light is digital eyestrain caused by long periods of exposure to blue light from computer screens and digital devices.
More than half of U.S. adults spend a minimum of six hours a day, every day, on phones, tablets and computers, so it's important to practice good habits to keep your eyes safe from blue light. Because we use our electronic devices so regularly, we are gradually being exposed to more sources of this light for longer periods of time. Common symptoms of digital eyestrain include sore or irritated eyes and difficulty focusing.
While this all seems pretty daunting, there are ways that you can reduce your exposure to blue light and protect it from damaging your retina.
Try to decrease the amount of time spent in front of screens and/or take frequent breaks to give your eyes a rest.
Screen filters are available for smart phones, tablets, and computer screens. They decrease the amount of blue light given off from these devices that could reach the retina.
Computer glasses with yellow-tinted lenses that block blue light can help ease computer digital eye strain by increasing contrast.
Anti-reflective lenses reduce glare, increase contrast and block blue light from the sun and digital devices.
100% UV protected sunglasses also block blue light.