Whether you’re at work on a computer or at home scrolling on your phone, screens are all around us. How do we navigate these negative consequences without the ability to escape the laptops and tablets in our daily life? One essential way is by monitoring our exposure to blue light and understanding how it can impact our health. Read on to find the practical steps you can take to limit your exposure:
What is Blue Light?
The light we see is composed of short segments of wavelengths on the electromagnetic radiation spectrum. The wavelengths of light are captured by our eyes and turned into white light by our brains. Like a prism, the wavelengths that make up the shades of white light are a rainbow of colors, and sunlight has lots of light at different wavelengths. These pieces of light (wavelengths) can range from 400-00 nanometers, and the ones that are referred to as “blue light” are near the violet shade on the rainbow. Approximately one-third of visible light is blue light, and the most significant source of it is sunlight. Other artificial sources include LED televisions, fluorescent lights, and laptop/smartphone/tablet screens.
How does Blue Light affect our eyes?
Since our eyes are not adept at blocking blue light, nearly all the blue light in our world passes through the cornea and lens and reaches the retina. In the retina, the cells convert the light, and the brain processes it into images. It is a common misconception that prolonged exposure to blue light can damage the retinal cells and create vision problems such as age-related macular degeneration. However, research from Harvard Health notes that the most critical effect of blue light is actually on our sleep habits and cycles. This is because it affects when our bodies produce naturally occurring melatonin and interrupts the circadian rhythm. When the circadian rhythm is disrupted, it can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and sleep disorders.
What can I do to reduce my exposure?
- Cut down on screen time: Limit unnecessary screen time and take frequent breaks.
- Stay current on prescriptions and eye exams: Staying current helps identify potential problems early on.
- Set aside time to go screen-free before bed: Stopping your scrolling before bed can help limit the negative impacts on your circadian rhythm and melatonin production.
- Try blue light glasses: Reduce the impact of blue light on your sleep habits.
How can Blue Light blocking glasses help?
There are many studies on blue light glasses, but not all of them agree on specifics on the amount of light that is filtered out. However, what is known is that these glasses can help protect eyes from the eye strain caused by overexposure to screens and devices. This is known as Computer Vision Syndrome, and encompasses vision complications that stem from too much screen time. Symptoms include:
- Blurry vision
- Dry eyes
- Eye strain
The American Optometric Association recommends minimizing discomfort from blue light, and adds, “Special lens tints and coatings can reduce the harmful impact of blue light” (Source). Experts at U.C. Davis agree that “wearing blue light glasses during the day can help people fall asleep, stay asleep, and have a more restful sleep. Generic lenses that filter blue light reduce negative effects by 10% to 23% without reducing quality” (Source).
At Medical Eye Center, we carry many blue light prescription lenses that can reduce the burden of eye strain for those who wear glasses. These include standalone blue light glasses, as well as the ability to add blue light blocking features to existing lens prescriptions. We also offer an expert staff and a generous warranty program so you can purchase with confidence. While many stores offer warranty coverage for an additional fee, Medical Eye Center provides peace of mind at no additional cost…we stand behind our products and services.