Overexposure to blue light can be harmful, and in this day and age almost everyone is getting a little too much. If you’re getting frequent headaches, blurred vision, neck and shoulder pain, or more serious eye conditions, it’s time to call your optometrist and book an eye exam. In this article, we’re going to dive into the world of blue light, exploring what it is, why it’s harmful and how we can protect ourselves from it.
What is Blue Light?
Blue light is part of the light spectrum humans can actually see. In the 415 to 455 nanometer range, blue/violet light has the shortest wavelength and the highest energy output, representing a large portion of all visible light.
You might’ve heard about the danger of blue light, especially if you spend the majority of your day behind a computer or other screen. The digital screens in our life are major emitters of blue light, but this light comes from other places too – like the sun. Blue light is everywhere, and can’t be avoided.
Why is Blue Light Harmful?
Normal doses of blue light are perfectly healthy for humans. In children, sunlight is crucial for the growth and development of the eye. This kind of light also aids our memory, influences our mood in a positive way, and helps regulate our sleep patterns.
Where we run into issues with blue light is when we’re overexposed – particularly from our computers, phones, tablets and TVs. Overexposure to blue light can disrupt our melatonin production, leading to difficulties falling asleep and getting proper rest when we are sleeping. Sitting too close to screens or staring at them for long periods of time is known to cause digital eye strain, dry eyes, and even cataracts. And while the science is still inconclusive, there are some studies that suggest exposure to blue light over long periods of time can actually damage the cells in our eyes and lead to serious problems like age-related macular degeneration, a permanent, progressive disease of the retina that destroys your central field of vision. And if you suffer from migraines or sensitive eyes, you’ll notice the effects of blue light are more potent.
How to Protect Against Blue Light
When we put ourselves in front of blue light, the light passes directly through our cornea and lens, where it reaches the retina for the brain to process into the things we see. The light comes right through virtually uninterrupted, as our eyes are not meant to block this light. How can we protect ourselves?
One of the best ways to protect against overexposure to harmful blue light is to limit and regulate screen time. If you spend the day working at a computer, it’s important to take regular breaks away from a screen, looking instead at something in the distance. Let your eyes see some natural light, and give your eyes a rest from being constantly focused. Blue filtering settings on computers, tablets and cellphones can also be super helpful. Most will come with a setting that limits blue light emission, and every device should have a low power mode that automatically dims the light.
Blue Light Blocking Glasses
Blue light blocking glasses have exploded in popularity over the years. These glasses are an excellent option for people who suffer from migraines, have sensitive eyes, or just spend a lot of time on the computer/phone. These special glasses have filters in the lenses that block or absorb 20 to 50% of blue light, which significantly lightens the load for our eyes. The blue light blocking nature of these special glasses can help reduce eye strain, dry eyes, headaches, and more serious issues down the road.
Because exposure to blue light is known to disrupt our sleep, blue light blocking glasses can provide further benefits even when we aren’t looking at a screen. Regular use of these glasses can aid our natural melatonin production and improve our circadian rhythms for sleep time. Indirectly, blue light blocking glasses can also impact our mental health, as regular deep sleeps have the ability to work wonders on cases of anxiety and depression.
Blue light blocking glasses are easy to find, but also rather inexpensive, making them an ideal option for maintaining the health of our eyes. You can buy blue light blocking glasses that come without a prescription, or you can get custom blue light filters to fit your prescription eyewear. To see if your optometrist recommends blue light lenses for your eyes, book an appointment with an optometrist or come visit our optical specialist to get fitted for blue blocking lenses.
If you’re noticing frequent headaches, dry eyes, blurred vision, neck pain or other worrying symptoms, you could be suffering from overexposure to blue light. The best thing to do to protect the long-term health of your eyes is to book an eye exam with your local optometrist.
At Inner Harbour Optometry, we can diagnose any eye condition with a comprehensive eye exam, and recommend further treatment from there. We’ve got two Victoria locations on Douglas Street and Cook Street, or you can easily book an eye appointment online.