What is Blue Light and How Can it Affect Your Eyes?
Updated: May 17
In this day and age, many will agree that technology has greatly improved people’s quality of life. Tech innovations are what power apps like Doctor Anywhere, allowing patients to conveniently see a doctor through a smartphone; and it’s also what has kept us connected with each other throughout the worldwide lockdowns caused by the pandemic.
Because of this constant exposure to technology—watching shows on Netflix, scrolling through your feed for hours on end, working eight hours a day in front of your computer—it’s safe to assume that most people spend a good portion of their day staring at screens.
And while that’s a good source of entertainment, prolonged use of gadgets and screens makes you susceptible to blue light exposure, which is bad for the eyes. But what is blue light exactly and how can it be harmful in the long run? Read on to find out.
What is Blue Light?
Blue light is one of the visible colors in the light spectrum, along with the other six colors of the rainbow. The sun is the main source of blue light, but items such as fluorescent and LED lights, smartphones, tablets, and television screens also emit blue light.
In the light spectrum, blue light is characterized by shorter wavelengths and higher energy output than other colors. Research shows a link between eye damage and blue light exposure between 415-455 nanometers of wavelength. It’s important to note that most of the blue light from common devices has wavelengths between 400-490 nanometers.
How Does Blue Light Affect the Eyes?
Digital eye strain is often linked with prolonged screen time. Below are some scenarios where blue light is said to affect your eye health:
Computer vision syndrome - It is said that about 50% of computer users suffer from symptoms like dry eyes, mild eye irritation, or blurred vision due to prolonged use of devices, whether it’s through work or leisure.
Poor sleep hygiene - Blue light exposure right before bedtime is said to stimulate the mind into thinking that it’s still daytime. This in turn prevents you from getting sleepy and can disrupt your sleep cycle and patterns, making it difficult to get a good night’s rest.
Phototoxicity - Blue light passes through straight to the retina. Because of this, prolonged exposure can damage the retina and lead to permanent vision changes.
Is Blue Light All Bad?
As mentioned earlier, the sun is the main source of blue light. That said, the amount of it that you get from screens is less compared to the sun. There are also some benefits to regulated blue light exposure from the sun, such as:
Keeps you alert - Blue light stimulates the mind and helps with your cognitive function and memory. It even helps boost your mood!
Regulates your body clock - Blue light from the sun during the daytime helps assist the natural circadian rhythm of the body.
Develops children’s vision - It’s impossible to be shielded from blue light, and that’s all right. This helps in the growth and development of a child’s eyes and vision—again in moderate and natural exposure.
Blue light exposure is not inherently bad, but the concern lies in the prolonged exposure of devices that feed the eyes with more than the usual blue light that it needs, especially during the evening.
How to Protect Yourself from Blue Light
If you suspect that you are experiencing the negative effects of prolonged blue light exposure, such as digital eye strain, there are a few ways to prevent things from going further south.
1. Monitor screen time
Try to control the amount of time you use your gadgets. You can also give your eyes frequent rest periods, like doing the 20/20/20 rule: Every 20 minutes of screentime, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
2. Use computer glasses
Regardless of whether or not you have a prescription, you can inquire about anti-blue light lenses. They usually have a yellow tint that blocks blue light from screens. However, don’t think that using this alone will give you a free pass from staring at a screen for hours on end! It’s still better to practice moderation whilst staying protected.
3. Keep eyes moist
Use eye drops or artificial tears to keep your eyes from drying out. This will lessen irritation and offer you temporary relief from any other lingering effects of digital eye strain.
4. Blue light filters
You can purchase screen protectors with blue light blockers for your devices. On your smartphone, you may also toggle the “Night Mode” setting at night to decrease the amount of blue light that your gadget emits. This will turn your screen into a warmer orange tint.
Prioritize Your Eye Health
Everything within moderation is good for you, including natural blue light exposure. If you feel eye irritation that cannot be resolved from the above tips, or you need expert advice from a medical professional, Doctor Anywhere has got you covered. Don’t leave things to the last minute. Conveniently book a video consultation with an ophthalmologist on the DA app.