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Should You Be Worried About Blue Light?

Chances are, you’re reading this blog on a device that emits blue light. With the amount of time we spend in front of screens increasing, should you be concerned about the additional blue light entering your eyes?

In this blog I will discuss blue light at a glance, including what it is and how it can hurt (or not!) your health.

Is Blue Light Damaging My Eyes?

When you stare at a digital screen for hours at a time, whether it's a computer, TV, phone or tablet, you are exposed to blue light emitted from the device. Some old headlines claimed excessive blue light causes blindness. However, there is no conclusive scientific evidence that light emitted from digital devices causes lasting damage to your eyes.

What produces blue light?

Blue light, like other colours of visible light, is all around us. Blue light is not just emitted from digital devices; the sun radiates blue light, and so do household light bulbs! However, we are being exposed to more blue light than ever due to the widespread use of devices that rely on light-emitting diode (LED) technology.

Why do my eyes hurt when staring at a screen?

Discomfort after looking at screens is most likely digital eye strain. We tend to blink less when looking at screens, which causes strain and dry eyes. The good news is eye strain does not cause lasting damage and is easily preventable:

  • Blink often to refresh your eyes. Blinking produces tears and spreads them across the eye surface, this lubricates and refreshes your eyes. Try to make it a habit to blink more often when looking at a monitor.

  • Take breaks. Throughout the day, give your eyes a break by looking away from your monitor. Try the 20-20-20 rule; Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 metres away for at least 20 seconds.

  • Check the lighting and reduce glare. Bright lighting and screen reflection can strain your eyes. The worst culprits are generally from sources above or behind you, including fluorescent lighting and sunlight. Try to angle your screen to avoid these reflections.

  • See your optometrist. Book an appointment with your optometrist to ensure there is no underlying cause of your eyestrain.

  • Consider blue light glasses. Speak to your optometrist about your lens choices. A blue light filter may be a good solution if your work/lifestyle means you're using digital devices for long periods.

Does blue light affect sleep?

Blue light affects the body’s circadian rhythm, our natural wake/sleep cycle. Blue light stimulates us (it is emitted from the sun, after all). Therefore, too much blue light exposure before bed from your phone, tablet or computer can make it harder to get to sleep.

Try to limit your screen time in the 2-3 hours before you go to bed. You can use the night setting on your device, or use blue light filter glasses, to minimise exposure if you're unable to limit screen use before bed.

The bottom line...

Blue light from electronic devices is not going to increase the risk of eye disease or cause long term damage to your eyes. However, the use of these devices may disrupt sleep and other aspects of your health/circadian rhythm.

If you are one of the large number of people who use digital devices regularly, talk to your optometrist about solutions and take steps to limit your device use at night.

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