What is Blue Light?
Blue light is a part of the visible light spectrum. This spectrum refers to what the human eye can see.
Blue light vibrates within the 380 to 500-nanometer range. It has the shortest wavelength and the highest energy.7
Approximately one-third of all visible light is high-energy visible or ‘blue’ light. Sunlight is the most significant source of blue light.7
Artificial sources of blue light include:
- Fluorescent light
- Compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs
- Flat-screen LED televisions
- Computer monitors
- Tablet screens
How Does Blue Light Affect the Eyes?
Here are the different ways blue light affects the eyes:
Consistent exposure to blue light may damage retinal cells over time. This may cause vision problems like age-related macular degeneration.
Blue light exposure can also contribute to:
- Eye cancer
- Growths on the clear covering over the white part of the eye
- Poor sleeping patterns
Exposure to blue light before sleeping can affect sleep patterns. It affects when our bodies make melatonin.
This disrupts our circadian rhythm, which is the body’s natural clock.8 This can cause problems with sleep and wake cycles, leading to insomnia, lack of concentration, and fatigue.
Digital Eye Strain
Computer screens and digital devices emit a lot of blue light. People also tend to blink less when using digital devices. This reduces contrast and can contribute to digital eye strain.
Other common symptoms of eye strain include:
- Blurred vision
- Neck and shoulder pain
Approximately 27 to 35 percent of people reported experiencing one of these symptoms after using digital devices.7 People are exposed to more blue light than ever because of the everyday use of devices that rely on LED technology.
Blue Light & Circadian Rhythms
Blue light plays an important role in your circadian rhythm. Exposure to sunlight throughout the day helps synchronize your body’s internal clock.9
The sun used to be our only source of blue light. Now, most homes, offices, and stores are filled with it. Additionally, many people look at their computers and mobile devices at night.
This increase in blue light exposure can decrease melatonin production. Melatonin is a hormone released by the pineal gland. It helps control your sleep-wake cycle.
Research suggests that wearing blue light blocking glasses before bed can effectively treat melatonin suppression.10
How Do Circadian Rhythms Affect Health?
Circadian rhythms involve several important body processes, including:
- Sleep cycle
- Heart rate
- Blood pressure
- Body temperature
Symptoms of circadian rhythm disorders include:
- Extreme tiredness
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Difficulty concentrating and decreased alertness
- Trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or both
- Impaired judgment while driving
- Poor emotional control
- Body aches and pains
- Stomach problems
Without treatment, circadian rhythm disorders can increase your risk of several health issues, including cardiovascular disease.
Do Blue Light Filters Work?
Blue light filters reduce the intraocular transmission of short‐wavelength visible light.8 Manufacturers claim that blue light filters reduce the effects of blue light from the following:
- Computer and laptop screens
- Cell phones
- Flat-screen televisions
Blue light glasses feature filtering materials or surface coating on the lenses to block out blue light. People who believe that their eye and vision symptoms are from blue light exposure may wear blue light glasses to reduce their exposure.
However, a 2017 systematic review suggests insufficient evidence is available to support the potential benefits of blue light glasses.5 Some advertisers have even received fines for misleading claims.
Despite the lack of evidence to support blue light glasses, wearing them won’t cause any harm. It’s up to the person whether they want to try blue light glasses.
5 Benefits of Blue Light Filters
Here are 5 benefits of blue light filters:
1. Improves Sleep
Exposure to short-wave light from digital devices before bedtime may affect sleep patterns.
A small 2019 study suggests that blue light filter glasses may help treat sleep disorders in people with Parkinson’s disease.1
Other studies also suggest that blue light glasses improve sleep quality and duration.3 Others recommend stopping the use of devices before bedtime completely.4
2. Lessens Eye Strain
Looking at a screen all day can lead to eye strain. Blue light can also make it more challenging to focus on the screen. This can make your eyes strain to concentrate.
Blue light glasses may help reduce eye strain. They do this by increasing the contrast on your screen. This makes it easier to focus and reduces eye strain.
3. Reduces Risk of Eye Diseases
Wearing blue light glasses may help prevent the development of different eye diseases, such as macular degeneration and cataracts.
Your cornea and natural lens effectively block most UV light from reaching the retina. However, they cannot block blue light. Blue light filters improve your eye health.
4. Fewer Headaches
Blue light can trigger migraines and worsen headache pain.
Blocking blue light with special glasses may help lessen migraine attacks and reduce headache pain.
5. Allows You to Continue Using Digital Devices
If you’re not prepared to limit the use of your digital devices, blue light glasses may help you continue using them as usual. They reduce the effects of blue light on your eyes.
How to Reduce Digital Eye Strain
Digital eye strain is not caused by blue light. It's caused by the ways we use our digital devices.
Here are some methods you can use to combat digital eye strain:
Maintain Proper Distance
Your computer screen should be an arm’s length away — approximately 25 inches, or at the point where your palm rests flat against the screen. The monitor should face slightly downward (about 15 to 20 degrees from your eye level to the center of the screen).
Maintain good posture with your feet flat on the floor and back straight. Your chair should have a backrest. Relax your shoulders and keep your forearms flat with your wrists on the keyboard.
Place Reference Materials Properly
Using reference materials, such as textbooks, a notebook, or a second monitor, should be the same height as your monitor.
One of the biggest causes of digital eye strain is not blinking. When focusing on digital screens, our blink rate can be reduced by up to 50 percent. Blink as often as possible to reduce dry eye and other symptoms.
You can adjust your screen settings, buy anti-glare coatings, or ensure your computer screen is high-quality. This will reduce the amount of light reflected from your screen.
Every 20 minutes, look at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. You should also rest your eyes for 15 minutes after every 2 hours of computer use. This helps prevent eye fatigue.
Increase Text Size
Reading small letters can strain your eyes and cause headaches. Increasing your font size can help combat this.
We suggest speaking with your local ophthalmologist if you are experiencing any digital eye strain symptoms.
- Digital devices like computers, televisions, and phones emit blue light
- The blue light emitted from these devices may not be enough to lead to eye or vision damage, even with long-term exposure
- Further studies are required to confirm whether blue light emitted from digital devices is harmful
- Blue light glasses may help with eye strain and other problems related to the eyes — but there is not enough research available to prove this
- Either way, wearing blue light glasses won’t cause any damage to the eyes
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