What’s the big deal with “blue light,” and is it really damaging to our eyes?
“Blue light” is a color in the visible light spectrum that can be seen by the human eye, and is considered a “short wavelength” – that is, it produces higher amounts of energy. As of late, eye doctors such as those part of the Matossian Eye Associates team have been studying the ways blue light impacts patients. This includes analyzing a plethora of studies which suggest exposure to blue light can cause eyestrain, fatigue, headaches and sleeplessness.
However, even in the midst of evidence, parallel studies have revealed that there’s not much consensus among eye doctors regarding whether blue light “blocking” devices are useful. In fact, researchers in Australia looked at survey results from 372 eye doctors on the topic of blue light. Among the respondents, over 75-percent had prescribed blue light blocking devices, but the following stats came along with that survey: Just 44-percent “believed daily exposure caused retina damage” and about half “considered placebo effects, at least at times, playing a role in patients’ experiences with these devices.” (This is according to MD Magazine.)
Further, about 34-percent of those surveyed felt “unsure” about what effects blue light has on the retina, but 90-percent felt that blue light is “important with regard to regulation of sleep patterns.”
The Truth About Blue Light
Blue light wavelengths are everywhere around us, and they are, fascinatingly enough, the reason the sky appears blue to us. These short blue wavelengths collide with air molecules, and this causes the blue light to scatter, making our brains process the sky as blue in hue.
Also very interesting is the fact that they help regulate the body’s sleep and wake cycles – also known as the “circadian rhythm” – and help boost awareness/alertness, elevate moods, heighten reaction times and increase overall feelings of wellbeing.
Artificial sources of blue light include electronic devices (cell phones, etc.) and certain types of lighting.
Concerns About Blue Light Exposure
Unfortunately, our eyes are not able to filter out this type of artificial light, and prolonged exposure may lead to macular cellular damage, which in turn can lead to loss of vision. The shocking truth is that the blue light “flickers” easier and longer than any types of weaker wavelengths, and as such it remains one of the shortest yet highest energy wavelengths in the light spectrum. This flickering casts a glare that reduces our visual contrast, affecting sharpness and clarity, and this can ultimately yield eyestrain, physical and mental fatigue and headaches if electronic devices or computers are used all day.
The medical profession is indeed concerned about blue light exposure levels for both adults and children, with the following statistics representing alarming numbers:
- 43% of adults work at a job that requires prolonged use of a computer or tablet
- 74% of teens between the ages of 12 and 17 use electronic devices at least “occasionally” (though we all know this is a conservative estimate)
- 70% of adults that regularly use electronic devices report symptoms of “digital eyestrain”
- 93% of teens boast access to or own a computer
Eye Doctors Give Suggestions for Combating Blue Light Exposure
Here are some recommendations from the eye doctors here at Matossian Eye Associates that you can use to help decrease your exposure to blue light:
- Invest in blue light filter glasses
- Blink more often when staring at a digital screen (Try the 10-10-10 rule during screen use: every 10 minutes, take 10 seconds and focus on something 10 feet away)
- Take frequent breaks from staring at electronic devices
- Smudge- and dust-free screens help reduce glare, so clean your screen often
- Change background colors on digital devices from bright white to warmer hues to reduce eyestrain (some devices even have “Night Shift” settings that reduce blue light)
If you have any additional questions about blue light, or if you wish to book your annual eye exam, do not hesitate to contact Matossian Eye Associates to schedule a visit with our eye doctors.