So – what is blue light? Blue light is a color in the “visible light spectrum” that can be seen by the human eye. The spectrum is seen as colors: violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange, red. Blue light has a very short wavelength so it produces a higher amount of energy.
Blue light is actually everywhere. In its natural form, your body uses the suns blue light to regulate your circadian rhythm as well as boost alertness and elevate moods. Artificial sources of blue light emit from all the electronic devices that we are so closely tied to in today’s world, such as cell phone, laptops, desktops and tablets.
Our eyes’ natural filters do not provide sufficient protection against blue light rays from the sun, let alone the blue light we are exposed to by our electronic devices!
Here are some interesting statistics that few realize:
- 60% of people spend more than 6 hours a day on an electronic device.
- 43% of adults work in a job that requires prolonged use of a computer.
- 74% of teens aged 12-17 access the internet on their cell phone.
How do these statistics affect us? The crystalline lens and cornea are still largely transparent and overexposed to light, so too much exposure to blue light is not a good thing. A Harvard medical study states that High Energy Visible (HEV) blue light is one of the most dangerous lights for the retina. Blue light exposure may cause permanent eye damage; contribute to the destruction of the cells in the center of the retina; and play a role in causing age-related macular degeneration which can lead to vision loss.
Digital eyestrain is another medical issue with serious symptoms that can affect learning and work productivity in adults as well as children. Symptoms of digital eyestrain include:
- Eye strain
- Dry eyes
- Blurred vision
Steps you can take to protect your eyes include minimizing glare.
Get an annual comprehensive eye exam. Having a routine eye exam is the most important thing you can do to prevent and treat computer vision problems.
If you wear glasses, be sure to ask for an Anti-Reflective treatment on your lenses. AR coating reduces glare by minimizing the amount of light reflecting off the front and back surface of your eyeglass lenses. Advanced technology AR coating targets blue light wavelengths associated with digital eyestrain (400-430nm), reducing exposure by as much as 85% at its peak.
Use proper lighting. Eyestrain is often caused by excessively bright light either from outdoor sunlight coming through windows or from harsh interior lighting.
Blink more often. Blinking is very important when working at a computer; blinking moistens your eyes to prevent dryness and irritation. When people work at a computer, people blink less frequently -one third as often as they normally do!
Take frequent breaks. To reduce your risk for computer vision syndrome as well as neck, back and shoulder pain you should take a break and walk away from your computer for a brief time.
Everyone needs to take precautions against the effects of blue light. Consult with your eyecare provider for more helpful tips and information.