Blue light facts: How Blue Light Affects Your Eyes
What Is Blue Light And Where Does It Come From?
If your eyes feel irritated and dry after a long workday in front of the computer, a pair of computer glasses might help.
Every modern workplace is full of computers and digital devices. Case in point, you’re reading this article on a phone or a computer right now. At work or even at home most of us could not live without our devices but they also cause us a lot of stress as well. Who hasn’t dreamed of chucking their computer out in the street when you lose an important document or the screen freezes in the middle of an important video call? But that kind of stress isn’t what we’re talking about. Did you know devices can cause stress to our eyes as well?
What is blue light?
What we see – the visible spectrum of light – consists of a range of colors, from blue-violet on the lower end to red on the higher end. Light on the lowest end of the visible spectrum has the shortest wavelengths; light on the highest end has the longest wavelengths. Since shorter wavelengths emit more energy, blue light is also known as High Energy Visible (HEV) light.
How are we exposed to blue or HEV light?
That glorious bright sunny day that most of us love is the primary culprit in blue light exposure. But even those who would rather stay indoors are not immune because we're also exposed to "unnatural" blue light from our smartphones, TVs, computer screens, and artificial lighting. Although our digital devices emit only a fraction of the HEV light emitted from the sun, the number of hours we spend using our devices can have both an immediate and a cumulative effect on our eyes.
Should we be concerned about blue light exposure?
The short answer is yes. Blue light is a bit like salt; our bodies need it but eat too much and it can cause high blood pressure. While exposure to blue light does have some positive benefits, our modern digital world has overexposed us to it.
Blue light regulates our circadian rhythm, also known as the sleep/wake cycle. Basically, it’s how our bodies know when to go to sleep and when to wake up. Blue light from the sun is responsible for increased energy and wakefulness. Still, our habit of checking our emails before bed or falling asleep in front of the TV can disrupt our natural sleep patterns by unnaturally exposing us to blue light at night.
Here’s a fun fact you can throw out at parties and impress your friends. Blue light suppresses the body’s secretion of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep and wakefulness. Though blue light is present in the sun’s rays during the day, it is less pronounced around dusk. The lack of blue light in the evening allows the body to produce melatonin freely, signalling that it is time to prepare for sleep. Exposure to blue light from electronic devices or artificial lighting after the sun has gone down can disrupt our circadian rhythm, making it harder to fall asleep or get a good night’s rest.
How does blue light cause eye strain?
Our eyes were not evolved for our modern digital world. The eye's cornea and lens aren't good at filtering HEV light from reaching our retina, the thin layer of light-receiving tissue that lines the back of the eye. Over time, this can cause damage to its light-sensitive cells. As we age, it gets worse and can make us more susceptible to eye diseases such as macular degeneration and cataracts. Young children are even more sensitive to blue light exposure since the lens of their eyes are even more transparent than adults, allowing more HEV light to pass through.
Reducing The Effects of Blue Light
While exposure to blue light is unavoidable, it is important to take steps to limit our exposure to it, especially from electronic devices and screens. Here are a few tips to help.
Cut down on screen time.
Taking regular breaks from computer or TV screens rests your eyes and limits blue light exposure. Every 20 minutes, look away from your screen and focus on an object 20 feet away. Do this for at least 20 seconds.
Take a break from blue light at night.
Screen breaks are most important in the evening. Try to power down your devices at least 3 hours before bed. This can help stop blue light from affecting your body’s release of the sleep hormone melatonin. More melatonin means better sleep.
One small study found that taking supplements with lutein and zeaxanthin for six months eased eyestrain, poor sleep quality, and headaches from excessive screen time. Ask your doctor if these supplements are safe for you to take.
Get Computer glasses
These glasses, about $70 and available in multiple styles, are designed to reduce eye strain when you’re staring at a computer for long periods. They reflect blue light, add contrast and reduce glare. Wearing them adds a bit of a yellow tint to your world, but you get over it pretty quickly. And the benefits are well worth it.
At Solar Bat we sell computer glasses that use a patented, multi-layer coating design to reduce glare, reflect blue light away from the lens and relieve long-term eye strain caused by excessive electronic device use.
Our goal is not only to provide comfort and eye protection but to improve your visual performance in your chosen sport, pastime, or occupation.