We spend numerous hours on our digital devices. We wake up, check our emails and social media feeds on our phones; we spend a minimum of 8 hours staring at a computer screen at work; then, in the evenings, we binge watch our favourite TV show or read our favourite book on our tablet. Is all of this exposure to blue light having an affect on our eyes?
In fact, it is! Although blue light can have a positive effect on you, it can also contribute to some negative effects. Balancing the amount of blue light intake while protecting your eyes is key!
First off, what is blue light?
Blue light is the shortest wavelength in the light spectrum. We get our main source of blue light from the sun but there are plenty of man-made sources like our digital display screens, fluorescent and LED lights as well as flat screen TVs that emit this blue light.
How does blue light from the sun have a positive effect on our health?
- Boosts alertness
- Helps with memory
- Increases our cognitive functions
- Elevates our mood
- Regulates our body’s circadian rhythm (the wake and sleep cycle)
Even though we need blue light in our lives, too much exposure to it can have an adverse effect, specifically on our eyes. Our eyes have a natural ability to block out some UV rays, but cannot block out the rays blue light gives off from reaching the retina and this is the main concern. Our eyes have no defense against blue light.
Risks of overexposure to blue light:
- Eyestrain which causes dry eyes, headaches and in some cases neck pain. It can also be the culprit if you have noticed a decrease in your productivity.
- Retina damage causing macular degeneration
- Your circadian rhythm can become irregular, leading to difficulty sleeping
With proper precaution at work and during your leisure time, you can avoid the damages blue light may cause to your eyes.
Tips on protecting your eyes from exposure to blue light:
- Position your computer screen at arm’s length from your face
- Try to avoid front and back glare on the screen
- Reduce the brightness and the colour temperature of your display screen. Most screens now have a blue light setting, which reduces the backlight and adjusts automatically according to the ambient light. Many mobile apps are available for your computer tablet and mobile phone!
- Add a filtering screen over your computer monitor or a filter over your phones or tablets, these really help to block out blue light
- If possible reduce the amount of time you spend staring at your devices or take breaks in order to give your eyes a break.
- Wear blue light filtering glasses, these are very helpful to reduce exposure and limit the effects blue light has on your wake and sleep cycle
As a final and very important tip, visit your eye care professional annually for your eye exam and to discuss the best options for reducing blue light exposure specifically for you.