As society’s use of electronic devices increases, there’s growing concern about excessive exposure to blue light from digital screens. And because this technology is still relatively new to the world, more research is needed to better understand its effects on our eyes.
If you’re among the majority of Americans who spend a lot of time each day looking at digital screens, you’re probably wondering if you need to worry about blue light. Let’s take a closer look at this topic together.
What Is Blue Light?
Our visible light spectrum is made up of seven colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. So what makes blue light different from the others? It has the shortest wavelengths and the highest energy levels.
The main source of blue light is the sun. But blue light also comes from digital screens and artificial light sources indoors, such as fluorescent bulbs.
How Does Blue Light Affect You?
It’s like they always say: Too much of a good thing is…not so good.
Natural blue light is beneficial to our bodies. It helps to regulate our circadian rhythm (sleep cycle), keeping us alert and even enhancing our mood. But excessive exposure to blue light—especially from devices that we hold at close range and stare at for a long period of time—could potentially have negative effects.
What Does Blue Light Do to Your Eyes?
The reality is that our eyes aren’t very good at filtering blue light. Nearly all of it reaches our retinas. That’s why we need to consider the excessive exposure we’re getting from artificial sources, like our digital devices.
But with the newness of digital screen technology comes a lack of long-term studies and significant research. You’ll discover that findings vary greatly from source to source regarding blue light and whether or not it’s harmful. Generally speaking, though, some believe that excessive blue light exposure from digital screens may be linked to eye strain or other eye conditions.
Does Blue Light Cause Eye Strain?
Many factors contribute to digital eye strain caused by excessive screen time. And yes, one of those factors may be prolonged exposure to blue light.
But other things can contribute to digital eye strain as well, such as poor lighting, distance from the screen, reduced blinking rate, uncorrected vision problems, and the fact that our eyes must work harder to remain focused on text that’s on a digital screen.
Blue light may lead to digital eye strain symptoms, such as:
- Blurred vision
- Dry eyes
- Eye fatigue
How Bad Is Blue Light for Your Eyes?
To understand how bad blue light is for eyes, we need to ask another question: Does blue light damage eyes? Unfortunately, there isn’t a clear-cut answer to how damaging blue light from digital screens is because findings vary. With that said, some research suggests that blue light may play a role in the development of eye disorders, such as age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
How Does Blue Light Affect Sleep?
According to the CDC, blue light has more impact on our circadian rhythms (aka our sleep-wake cycle) than other colors. Natural exposure to blue light during the day is what cues our bodies to be awake and alert. As the sun sets each day, our bodies naturally produce melatonin, which helps us to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Excessive exposure to blue light at night (think late-night phone scrolling or reading on a tablet in bed) may disrupt our circadian rhythms, making it hard to fall asleep and stay asleep. And sleep deprivation can cause plenty of issues, impacting our mood and cognitive function on a daily basis.
Whether or Not Blue Light Is Bad for Your Eyes…
It never hurts to protect yourself. If you’re concerned about your exposure to blue light from digital screens, you can always make an appointment with your eye doctor to discuss your screen usage and habits.Your doctor can assess any symptoms you might be experiencing, give you more information about blue light glasses, and help you determine if they might benefit you.