How Blue Light Affects Your Eyes
There’s no doubt about it – we are all addicted to our electronics and can’t seem to get enough screen time. What we don’t often pay attention to is how staring at a screen, whether it be a tablet, computer or phone, impacts our eyes. While having the world at our fingertips is truly amazing, the health concerns that come with this technology are becoming apparent. Here is how blue light affects your eyes, and how to ensure safe screening.
Digital Eye Strain:
Continual screen time can affect your eyes in two ways. The first most common and harmful effect is digital eye strain. While we are looking at a screen, our blink rate drops significantly. We naturally blink around 15-20 times a minute. When we stare at a screen for extended periods of time, this number drops quite a bit, resulting in dryness and eye irritation. Often, we experience slightly blurry vision after having looked at the computer screen all day. This blurred vision is a side effect of digital eye strain, and it’s a way your eyes are telling you that they have been overworked. Many people get headaches after staring at a screen for too long, or their eyes feel dry, runny, and fatigued. While digital eye strain is temporary, it can lead to a chronic problem if left unaddressed and unmonitored. So many of us have adapted this into a natural part of our everyday routine that it often goes unnoticed and we are not concerned about these signs.
How to Counter DES:
The easiest and fastest way to relieve your eyes from digital eye strain is to actively pay attention to your eyes and blink more. Blinking lubricates your eyes, and helps them stay sharp throughout the long workday. The 20-20-20 rule is also a great way to help relieve your eyes and help them refresh. Every 20 minutes, stare at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This will help your eyes refocus and give them a break from the bright lights of your screen.
Blue Light Exposure Damage:
The second and more intense concern is blue light exposure damage. The problem with blue light is that it is the strongest form of light, as it is the highest energy wavelength of visible light. This kind of light has the ability to penetrate all the way to the back of the eye. It goes through the eye’s natural filters whereas other lights don’t. While occasional exposure to blue light is okay, the fact that we are constantly absorbing it can lead to macular degeneration, causing serious problems. Children are most at risk for developing ocular problems, as their eyes have yet to fully develop, and gain the protective pigment that helps filter out some of the harmful blue light. Limiting your child’s screen time is the best way to ensure they are protected against this. Adults are also susceptible, and especially so with the way we use our smartphones and laptops.
How to Prevent BLED:
To prevent damage from occurring, one of the best ways to help yourself is to limit screen time before bed. Studies have shown that blue light exposure interrupts our REM cycle of sleep. Reducing blue light exposure a couple hours before bed helps as this type of light is known to suppress melatonin and delays deep REM sleep from taking place. There are also lenses available to help block blue light absorption, and they are available for both adults and children. Speaking to your eye doctor about this will greatly benefit your whole family.
Taking a proactive approach in understanding how blue light affects your eyes will be helpful to you in the long run. Your eye health, productivity, moods, and sleep will thank you! Contact us for a consultation.