It’s safe to say that 2020 has seen us spending more time in front of digital screens than ever before. Whether it’s studying or working from home, or video calling friends and family, or scrolling social media, our reliance on technology has dramatically increased during the last year alone. Spending long hours looking at screens may seem harmless, but there are many effects that most of us don’t even realize. One of these is excessive exposure to blue light.
Blue light is all around us every day. Have you ever noticed how the brighter the sun is shining, the bluer the sky seems? This is because our primary source of blue light is the sun. When doctors advise you to make sure that you get outside regularly, it isn’t only to soak up vitamin D from the sun. It’s also to make sure that you get enough natural blue light to be healthy.
Natural blue light exposure has a range of benefits to our health. When we get enough blue light from the sun, it helps to:
Regulate our sleep-wake cycle so that we can fall asleep easily, sleep well, and be alert during the day.
Improve our mood, helping to combat many mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
Improve our cognitive function, including our attention span and memory.
Some studies even suggest that natural blue light exposure can be good for combatting skin problems like acne and scarring.
The trouble is that we don’t just get our exposure to blue light from the sun. Digital devices such as computer and smartphone screens, tablets, and laptops, all produce artificial blue light. When we use these for extended periods, we are being exposed to far more blue light than we actually need. The other problem is that when we use digital devices at night time, the blue light they produce can trick us into thinking that it’s daytime, and our body stays alert when it should be winding down, getting ready for us to go to sleep. This happens because the blue light inhibits our body’s production of melatonin – the hormone that makes us feel sleepy. Unsurprisingly, this causes a number of negative effects.
Some of the common negative consequences of exposure to artificial blue light include:
Sleep problems, including difficulty falling and staying asleep and poor quality sleep.
Daytime fatigue, which can potentially be dangerous.
Lack of concentration.
Memory problems, particularly with working memory.
Digital eye strain: a condition that causes headaches and migraines, dry eyes, blurred vision, and eye fatigue.
Faster progression of nearsightedness (myopia).
Blue light has a shorter wavelength than ultraviolet light, meaning that it doesn’t harm our skin in the same way. However, this doesn’t mean that it has no effects on our eyes. Research suggests that prolonged exposure to blue light could be a contributing factor to the development of conditions such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, both of which can lead to permanent vision loss. Similarly, studies have linked melatonin suppression to a range of different health problems, including obesity, diabetes, depression, and cancer.
Digital screen protection refers to the steps taken, and devices used to help protect your eyes from the harmful effects of blue light. As well as making sure that you take regular screen breaks and trying to limit your time using such devices in the evening, there are primarily two other solutions. One of these is blue light lenses.
Blue light lenses are lenses specifically recommended to patients who spend large periods of time in front of screens. They have a special coating that can block a certain percentage of blue light coming from your screen, preventing it from reaching your eyes. Exactly how much blue light your lenses will block will depend on the variety that you choose, but some are effective at blocking as much as 99% of blue light, making them extremely effective. Blue light blocking coating can usually be applied to both clear and prescription lenses.
Want to know more about how to protect your eyes from blue light? Contact Longview Eye Associates in Longview, Texas at 903 - 417-0070.