Blue light, also called blue-ray light, is a specific kind of light with a short wavelength.
This type of light is emitted from your computer screen, your mobile device, your flat-screen television, and many other devices that have screens.
Daily blue light exposure is exploding
The average person’s blue light exposure has increased exponentially in recent years as smartphones and laptops become more prevalent in daily life. But physicians are observing that blue light exposure may actually damage our eyes, according to a
To help reduce damage from blue light, blue light glasses and lenses have been introduced. These may help limit the amount of blue light exposure your eyes get every day.
Researchers are still working to understand what blue light can do to your eyes over time.
Read on to learn what we know about blue light glasses, as well as what you can do to help prevent negative side effects from this type of light.
Blue light is a type of visible light on the light spectrum. It has a relatively short wavelength of 415 to 455 nanometers. Because of this, blue light rays contain more energy than many other light types.
Blue light isn’t produced by artificial sources only. We see blue light naturally every time we look up at a blue sky.
For thousands of years, humans were exposed to blue light only during the hours that the sun was up. So, our brains are trained to interpret blue light as a cue to be alert, energetic, and keep our bodies ready for action.
That’s why blue light exposure from a device can confuse your body. Your waking and sleeping cycle can be thrown off by high levels of blue light exposure — for example, from an artificial source (like your smartphone) in an otherwise dark environment.
And if you’re exposed to too much blue light during the day, your eyes can grow fatigued.
Dry eye is also a side effect of too much blue light exposure. You may be on your devices for more than 10 hours each day, both at home and at work — so you might be all too familiar with these symptoms.
Enter blue light glasses. These types of glasses are meant to filter blue light as light waves pass into your eyes. The idea is that this would allow you to use sources of blue light, like smartphones and laptops, with minimal side effects.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology doesn’t currently recommend special blue-light-filtering glasses for use when you work with computers.
This may change in the future. A
But in general, the evidence for blue light glasses as a preventive measure for reducing blue light exposure is mixed.
It’s also worth noting that this latter study was funded by blue-light-blocking lens retailer Swiss Lens Laboratory Ltd. This can indicate some bias in study results, due to private funding with a vested interest in outcomes that may drive company profit.
You don’t have to purchase blue light glasses to reduce your exposure to blue-ray light.
Protect your eyes from eyestrain and fatigue by adopting some eye-health-friendly habits, including:
- Take “eye breaks” from your screens. You can do this by going on walks outside during the day. Avoid checking your phone during these breaks. You can also get vitamin D during time outside and connect with the natural world, which can both decrease stress.
- Dim the lights in your home or workspace. Consider using red light as opposed to an LED bulb as a nightlight in your bedroom. Red light is less likely to disrupt your circadian rhythm because red wavelengths are shorter.
- Take up hobbies that don’t involve screens. Screen-free time — perhaps spent reading, crocheting, or baking — can help decrease your blue light exposure.
- Look into installing “blue-free” light bulbs. You can set these up in your home, and they’ll emit lower levels of blue light.
- Institute a screen-free rule for your bedroom. Make an effort to avoid screens for the 2 to 3 hours before you turn in for the night.
- Create screen-free spaces in your home. You can retreat to these spots for a momentary break from blue light exposure.
- Treat symptoms of dry eye. You can do this by using over-the-counter eye drops.
Other technology tips
- Consider setting up an email signature or text “away message.” This can let people know you are trying to avoid screen time. Advise them to call instead if they need you immediately. This can reduce the stress of feeling the constant need to look at your phone later at night.
- Check out your phone’s preinstalled features. Some phones have options for “wind down” or “night” modes that change light emissions to a warmer tone for less blue light exposure.
- Research blue-light-blocking screen protectors. You can get these for your phone and laptop.
According to a
Computer vision syndrome, a set of symptoms related to screen time, is experienced by up to 90 percent of computer users, according to
Symptoms of computer vision syndrome include:
The signals that blue light sends to your brain can also disrupt your body’s production of the sleep hormone melatonin. This can make it hard to fall asleep and stay asleep after using your devices at night.
And beyond sleep quality, melatonin disruption throws off the entire hormone balance in your body.
Poor sleep quality can also change the way that your body feels stress. When you aren’t getting REM sleep, your mind isn’t able to fully relax.
Blue light exposure may already be causing you to have symptoms like eyestrain and dry eye.
If these symptoms don’t resolve with lifestyle changes and self-care strategies, speak with an eye doctor about them.
You should also make an appointment with an eye doctor if you experience the following:
- frequent bouts of eyestrain
- eyestrain that lasts for days
- prolonged, frequent symptoms of dry eye
- decrease in your vision quality
- blurred vision
As far as blue light glasses go, the definitive verdict is still out in their ability to substantively reduce your exposure to blue light and the associated symptoms of exposure.
But limiting blue-light exposure, adopting habits to take better care of your eyes, and taking breaks from your screens can all help you avoid dry eye and eyestrain caused by blue light exposure.