Early research shows that excess blue light exposure can increase the risk of eye diseases, such as retinal damage and macular degeneration. Your retina and the center of your retina (macula) help you see clearly. An in vivo study on animals showed damage to the retina and macula caused by blue light. So, in humans, blue light may cause permanent vision problems. However, some experts think that more research is needed, especially on humans, to confirm these findings. If research proves that blue light damages the retina and macula, the eye conditions that develop as a result are generally irreversible. Treatments can only delay vision impairments or improve vision to only some extent and stop these eye conditions from worsening.
Blue light from electronics is also linked to problems, such as cataracts.
Experts are divided on the opinion that blue light damages the retina or causes macular degeneration. While some recommend using blue light blocking glasses that block the blue light when you look at the digital screens, some believe that these are not effective means. There are reports of people who have seen improvement in their eye problems, such as eye strain after using these special glasses. However, robust evidence to support this is lacking.
Computer vision syndrome, also referred to as digital eye strain, is caused by increased exposure to blue light emitted by a digital screen. It affects about half of all computer users and can be reversed with simple steps and eye drops. Symptoms include:
Other effects of excess blue light exposure include:
Poor sleep: Blue light interferes with your biological clock (circadian rhythm), which regulates your sleep-wake cycle. Exposure to blue light close to bedtime at night disrupts the circadian rhythm. As a result, your body does not get the signal that it is time for you to sleep.
Increased risk of disorders in children, such as:
What is blue light?
Blue light is one of the components or colors that make up the white light (sunlight) of the sun. It has a shorter wavelength and higher energy than all the colors of the sunlight. Blue light is also emitted from the LED (light-emitting diode) used in light bulbs, computer and laptop screens, smartphones, and television sets. It has a wavelength varying between 400 and 490 nanometers.
How can you prevent the blue light from damaging your eyes?
While you cannot completely avoid working on your laptops or using your smartphones, you can minimize the effect of blue light on your eyes. Here are a few steps to follow:
- Maintain a safe distance. Sit at an arm's length (or 25 cm) away from the computer or laptop. Your screen should be placed at such a height that your eyes look at it downward.
- Try the “20-20-20” rule. Every 20 minutes look away from your screen and look at an object 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This gives your eyes a chance to take frequent breaks in between and relax.
- Restrict the use of devices at night. Do not use blue-light emitting electronic devices at least 2 hours before bedtime.
- Use artificial tears. This helps lubricate your dry eyes due to the digital eye strain.
- Adjust the computer brightness and contrast.
- Adjust lightings near your device.
- Consider using a matte screen filter for your electronic device.
- Wear eyeglasses instead of contact lenses while sitting in front of the computer for prolonged periods.
If you do not get relief from your eye strain and related problem after following these steps, there may be some other eye conditions responsible for the eye problems you are experiencing. For such and other additional concerns, consider visiting an ophthalmologist.
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Porter D. Blue Light and Digital Eye Strain. American Academy of Ophthalmology. December 10, 2020. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/blue-light-digital-eye-strain
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