Today’s all things digital, screen-obsessed world has a lot of people concerned the exposure that blue light electronics emit may cause digital eye strain. Considering some studies suggest 60% of people spend over six hours a day in front of a digital screen, they may be right to be concerned.
Understanding blue light
What is blue light in terms of the digital world? Cell phones, computers, tablets, and flat-screen televisions use LED back-lit technology, which all emit blue light. Blue light is actually the visible light spectrum with the shortest wavelength and highest energy. If you’ve never heard of visible light, it is simply the part of the electromagnetic spectrum that we see as colors. Those colors are violet, indigo, blue, green, red, and yellow. It literally is what makes the sky appear blue. While all our favorite screens emit blue light, the largest source comes from sunlight. In fact, the blue light from digital devices is only a fraction of the amount produced by the sun.
There is documented research that some blue light is beneficial. It improves cognitive function and memory while boosting alertness. It’s also essential to regulating the body’s natural sleeping and wakefulness cycle, known as circadian rhythm. It has even been used to treat seasonal depression. Some studies show a connection between too little blue light and myopia/nearsightedness in children.
What are the risks?
Some researchers have suggested that advanced exposure to blue light may contribute to the risk of developing macular degeneration. After all, high-intensity blue light from any source could potentially damage the eye. However, an article published in the Harvard University Health Blog in April 2019 points out that “consumer electronics are not harmful to the retina because of the amount of light emitted. For example, recent iPhones have a maximum brightness of around 625 candelas per square meter (cd/m2). Brighter still, many retail stores have an ambient illumination twice as great. However, these sources pale in comparison to the sun, which yields an ambient illumination more than 10 times greater!” The article concludes by stating that blue light from electronic devices does not increase the risk of macular degeneration, nor will it harm any other part of the eye.
Does that mean there are no negative effects from too much exposure to blue light?
Not necessarily. While there may be mixed opinions from medical professionals regarding macular degeneration and blue light, most agree that avoiding excessive blue light exposure is sometimes necessary. Particularly after cataract surgery when the eye’s natural lens, which blocks almost all blue light, is replaced with an intraocular lens (IOL).
Most medical professionals agree that too much blue light can disrupt sleep patterns which can affect your overall health in a big way. But there doesn’t seem to be much debate that too much blue light contributes to digital eye strain and dry eyes. So, limiting your exposure by limiting your screen time or using blue light blocking glasses might be worth considering. Even more important, don’t skip regular eye exams. If you’re experiencing eye fatigue, dry eyes or other vision issues, contact the professionals at Tyson Eye Center. Don’t trust the things you see the world with to just anyone. We’ve got the expertise you need with a healthy dose of common sense and a lot of care. Schedule your eye exam today.