You’re probably reading this article on a device that gives off blue light. So, should you be worried about blue light causing damage to your eyes?
Natural blue light from the sun can lift your mood and improve your sleep. But artificial blue light from your computer and smartphone can hurt your eyes and affect your health.
In this post, we explain what blue light is and how it affects your eyes. We’ll also take a closer look at the harmful effects and benefits of blue light. And finally, you can follow a few tips to protect your eyes from blue light.
What Is Blue Light?
Blue light is emitted from your computer, laptop, tablet, smartphone, TV screen, and even indoor lights, especially LEDs. Blue light is all around you, too, present naturally in sunlight.
It’s one of the colors of the visible light spectrum. The spectrum is made of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Blue light makes up about one-third of all visible light.
How Does Blue Light Affect Your Eyes?
Your eyes can’t block or filter blue light, which makes its way through the cornea and lens to reach your retina. So, what does blue light do to your eyes?
Long-term exposure to artificial blue light can harm your eyes. You may experience blurry eyesight, eyestrain, and even lose central vision.
But not all blue light is harmful. Natural blue light from the sun can help boost alertness, elevate mood, and regulate your sleep-wake cycle.
Harmful Effects of Blue Light Exposure
The more time you spend using devices with digital screens, the more you expose your eyes to artificial blue light. Long-term exposure to blue light at a close range can be harmful.
Lets’ take a closer look at the harmful blue light effect on the eyes.
Damages Your Retina
The retina is a thin, light-sensitive tissue covering the back of the eye. Constant exposure to blue light can damage the retina. This can cause blurred vision and may even increase the risk of macular degeneration later in life.
Macular degeneration is a disease of the retina. It’s generally age-related, affecting people over 50. But blue light exposure can speed up the process and increase the likelihood of developing macular degeneration at a younger age.
Macular degeneration can damage your central vision. In worst cases, it can lead to blindness.
Causes Digital Eye Strain
Blue light scatters easily. Because of this, after using your computer or smartphone for long periods, you may find it difficult to focus your eyes. The result is digital eye strain.
Some common symptoms you may experience are dry eyes, fatigue, soreness, and irritation in the eye. You may even complain of constant headaches and find yourself squinting all too often.
Digital eye strain doesn’t affect only adults. Children growing up using digital devices are at risk of eyestrain, too. What’s worse is that their eyes are even more sensitive to damage from blue light.
Leads to Poor Sleep
Blue light can disrupt your sleep cycle. Using your laptop or smartphone before bedtime will lower the production of sleep hormones. This can trick your brain into thinking it’s still daytime, making sleep harder to come by.
Exposure to blue light can affect your circadian cycle, too. The circadian cycle determines when your body is ready to be awake or asleep.
In other words, too much blue light means the quality of your sleep will become poor. In turn, lack of sleep can affect your eyesight.
You will not just feel a total energy drain during the daytime, but may even develop other health problems, like depression, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart issues.
Benefits of Blue Light Exposure
Blue light, especially in the form of sunlight, has several benefits, too. It’s not all bad. Blue light therapy, along with proper medication, is now a popular treatment method for seasonal depression.
Here are the main benefits of blue light exposure.
Boosts Memory and Alertness
According to a study, exposure to blue light can boost memory and cognitive function. In the study, a group of volunteers were exposed to blue light for thirty minutes. At the same time, another group was exposed to amber light.
After thirty minutes, the group exposed to blue light had better cognitive and memory performance than the other group. They also had a better verbal memory recollection later.
Blue light also boosts alertness. Exposure to it during the daytime can peak your performance and reaction time.
This means that you are more likely to work and perform better during the morning and afternoon hours than in the evening or at night.
Regulates Wake and Sleep Cycles
Your body is tuned to the cycle of the sun. When exposed to natural sunlight, your body gets the signal to wake up.
When the sun sets and it gets darker, your body starts experiencing lower energy levels and readies itself for sleep.
Natural blue light helps regulate your wake-sleep cycle. That said, your laptop, computer, or iPhone blue light at night can disrupt your sleep. You may find it hard to fall asleep and experience daytime lethargy the day after.
Improves Mood and Seasonal Depression
An early morning walk can do much to uplift your mood. It can give you an energy high all day. That’s because natural blue light can make you feel wide awake and more alert.
Blue light therapy is also a go-to treatment to relieve seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is most common in winter, when short, overcast days expose your body to less sunlight than other seasons.
With this therapy, patients are exposed to morning blue light for at least 20 minutes. It helps ease anxiety, fatigue, irritability, feelings of hopelessness, and other symptoms of SAD.
Reduces Acne Breakouts
Blue light can also help treat acne and other skin problems. The light kills certain acne-causing bacteria on the skin. It also helps lower acne inflammation.
You can opt for blue light therapy for acne at a clinic. You can also try an at-home treatment using a blue light device.
How to Protect Your Eyes from Blue Light?
If you work on a computer all day or use your smartphone or tablet quite often, you need to protect your eyes from the harmful effects of blue light. Follow these tips to protect your eyes from blue light damage.
Reduce Screen Time
Most of your blue light exposure comes from using digital devices. Reduce your daily screen time by consciously avoiding the doom-scroll on social media.
While working, you can take a small, 20-second break, and look away from the screen. This will briefly relax your eyes and prevent digital eye strain.
Switch On Blue Light Filter
You can adjust the blue light on your screen and make it warmer. You can also switch on the night mode when you’re working after sundown.
These simple steps will help cut the glare on your screen. The blue light filter will also cut over 50% of blue light. That way, your sleep-wake cycle will not be disturbed even if you’re working until late.
Wear Yellow-Tinted Glasses
Yellow-tinted glasses will block the blue light devices emit. They’re especially great for those who sit in front of the computer all day.
You can buy blue light glasses with or without a prescription. You can also opt for ones with an anti-reflective coating. These will help relieve eye strain and reduce headaches.
Keep Lights Dim
Use warm, dim lights during evening hours. This will reduce nighttime exposure to blue light and help you sleep better.
You can also install a dynamic lighting system at your home. The system will automatically adjust the color and intensity of light.
Also, sleep in darkness. Use blackout curtains to reduce the intensity of road or car lights outside. Alternatively, you can use an eye mask for sleeping.
Take an Eye Health Supplement
A balanced tear film will lubricate your eyes and ensure their natural defenses function normally.
Antioxidants and phytonutrients in plant-based supplements can further support your eyes’ natural defense mechanisms.
To Be, or Not to Be…
…worried about blue light exposure?
In the end, natural blue light from the sun can uplift your mood, improve your attention, and regulate your sleep cycle. But at night, artificial blue light can harm your eyesight and lead to poor sleep.
The best approach is to get enough natural blue light to stay energized while limiting your exposure to artificial blue light.
Shut down or switch off your laptop, tablet, or phone 2 to 3 hours before bedtime. Keep indoor lights dim and warm, use blue-blocking filters, and reduce your screen time.
At the same time, get more natural blue light during the day. Go on an early morning walk or sit in your garden for half an hour. You can also set your work table near a window, whether you work from home or office.
These simple habits will align your body rhythm to the natural sun cycle. All of you will benefit, your eyes included. Do your eyes feel dry and tired today? If you’re using screens every day, artificial blue light may make your dry eyes feel worse.
Take the Dry Eye Test now to find out whether you have dry eyes disease.