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Blue Light and Your Eyes – Sources, Effects and Tips for Protection

Blue Light and Your Eyes - Sources, Effects, and Tips for Protection

What is blue light?

Blue light belongs to the visible region of the electromagnetic spectrum. This light is characterized by a shorter wavelength, higher frequency and higher energy. Blue light has a wavelength of between 380-500 nanometers.

What are sources of blue light?

The sun is the primary source of light, and hence, of blue light also. Apart from the sun, blue light is emitted by:

  • -Electronic devices
  • -Digital screens such as TVs, computers, laptops, smart phones and tablets
  • -Fluorescent lights
  • -LED lights

These devices and screens emit only a small fraction of blue light when compared to the blue light emitted by the sun. However, their effects are serious because of the amount of time people spend on these devices and the proximity to them.

Digital eye strain and physical ramafications

Because blue light has a shorter wavelength, blue light waves flicker more often. This flickering causes headaches, eye strain, physical exhaustion and mental fatigue in a lot of people. Our eyes cannot filter out blue light for long, and prolonged exposure to this light from computer and mobile screens can cause retinal damage and macular degeneration, which can further contribute to the loss of vision.

High exposure to blue light can disrupt the circadian rhythm (sleep-wake cycle) in your body. It also causes what is known as digital eye strain syndrome. The symptoms of this syndrome include blurred vision, difficulty focusing, dry and irritated eyes, headache, neck pain, upper and lower back pain.

How exposed are you to blue light from devices?

According to surveys, 43% of adults work a job that requires a prolonged exposure to blue light from digital screens like computers or tablets.

74% of teenagers ranged 12-17 access the internet on devices at least occasionally. 15% off teenagers watch four or more hours of TV every day, while nearly 12% report using their computers for 4 or more hours per day.

With such a high use of electronic devices in our day-to-day lives, it’s clear we are highly prone to the ill effects of artificial blue light. About 70% of adults who regularly use media devices felt some symptoms of eye strain, but many did nothing to reduce discomfort, mainly due to lack of knowledge.

How can you protect your eyes from blue light?

The future is BRIGHT. Here are a few tips to protect your eyes from the harmful effects of blue light.

1. Use a screen filter

Screen filters are fitted on the screens of laptops, tablets, and phones. These filters fit easily onto the device without harming the original screen or interfering with touch sensitivity. They filter out the blue light and make the light from the screen look relatively warmer. These are especially helpful if your work requires prolonged use of computer or smartphone screens.

2. Wear blue light glasses

Blue light glasses have filters in their lenses that block or absorb blue light, and in some cases, UV light. If you wear these glasses while looking at a digital scree, it can protect your eyes from the harmful blue light rays that disrupt sleep patterns and are harmful for your retina.

3. Hold your device at an angle

If you hold your device at an angle of 30 degrees or more, you can reduce the amount of blue light that enters your eyes by a considerable amount. To determine the best angle, you can experiment by placing the screen at different angles from your eyes. You will be able to physically feel it when the strain on your eyes has been reduced.

4. Change screen settings

Adjust the brightness setting of your computer/device to reduce the strain on your eyes. Some devices even have a blue light mode that reduces the blue light that is emitted from the screen. On apple devices, you can set a daily “night shift” that automatically turns at nighttime and reduces the blue light that is emitted from the screen.

5. Rest your eyes

Rest your eyes properly. Your eyes are capable of repairing themselves to a great extent. When you give your eyes ample amount of rest, away from electronic screens, they can recover from eye strain. Take short breaks between intervals of work. Close your eyes or simply move them away from the screens. Follow the 20/20/20 rule: every 20 minutes, take a 20 second break and focus your eyes on something at least 20 feet away. This measurably reduces the stress caused to the eyes.

Gene

Gene Bruno is professor of nutraceutical science at Huntington University of Health Sciences and also the senior director of product innovation for Twinlab Consolidation Corporation. Bruno has bachelor's and master's degrees in nutrition, as well as a graduate diploma and master's degree in herbal medicine. As a 40-year veteran of the dietary supplement industry and award-winning formulator, he has developed natural products for dozens of dietary supplement companies; educated and trained natural product retailers and health care professionals; and written articles on nutrition, herbal medicine, nutraceuticals and integrative health issues for trade, consumer and peer-reviewed publications, as well as authoring books and textbook chapters.