With the rising popularity of smartphones, tablets, and computer screens in our everyday lives, the prevalence of blue light has increased significantly. According to forbes.com, the average person will spend about 3,500 hours looking at a screen this year. With so much time spent looking at screens, our eyes are constantly being exposed to blue light more than normal. But what is blue light and how does it affect our vision?
Not all blue light is bad. Blue light occurs naturally in sunlight and is an important part of the sleep-wake cycle. The light within the blue-turquoise range (between 465-495 nm) is important to our vision and our overall health so it is important to be exposed to this range. Our sleep cycle is also referred to as our circadian rhythm, which alerts the brain when it’s daytime, making us feel less tired and more alert.
Digital screens and LED and CFL lighting implements also produce high levels of blue light, which can interrupt our circadian rhythm. Our eyes have sensors to detect when it’s daylight out and when it’s not. So, when we are exposed to it at night, our brain is tricked into thinking it’s still daytime which can wreak havoc on our body’s natural cycle.
Overexposure to blue light can also put you at risk for digital eye strain. Blue light has shorter wavelengths which tend to scatter, making it harder to focus easily. When we use devices that output high amounts of blue light, our eyes can be strained after a period of time. If you’re experiencing any symptoms like itching eyes, dry eyes, blurred vision, difficulty concentrating, or increased light sensitivity you might be experiencing digital eye strain.
If you’re working long hours staring at a digital screen, doctors recommend the 20-20-20 rule to reduce the likeliness of eye strain. Every 20 minutes look away from your screens at something 20 feet away for about 20 seconds. Giving your eyes consistent breaks helps reduce negative side effects of eye strain but also reduces any chances of long term damage to your vision.
Blue light blocking glasses can be a great solution for those who have trouble falling asleep, work long hours in front of a screen, or just use their smartphones throughout the day. Prolonged exposure to blue light from digital devices has the power to throw a lot of things out of whack but can also cause permanent damage to your vision.
The best way to stay on top of your eye health is to see an optometrist annually, or as often as your doctor recommends. Not sure if your symptoms are caused by digital eye strain? We can clear things up for you. Schedule an exam today.