Is Blue Light Harmful?
Let’s be honest, we all spend way too much time staring at a screen. It’s not really our fault though. We’re surrounded by those glowy rectangles and our jobs require hours of screen time every day. How much time do you spend staring at a screen? Recent research shows that almost 70% of US adults spend seven hours looking at a screen. That’s how much time we spend sleeping!
Blue Light—Invisible But Dangerous
All that screen time can’t be good. Sure enough, researchers agree—it’s not good. The problem is blue light. Blue light comes in a visible and invisible form. It’s the invisible type that damages our eyes over time. Where does this blue light come from? You won’t like the answer. Most of it comes from the sun. But going indoors doesn’t do much good since secondary sources are fluorescent lights, LEDs, computer screens, smartphones, and flat screen TVs.
For years, researchers and doctors mistakenly thought that UV exposure was increasing the number of cases of blindness due to macular degeneration and other eye diseases. Recently, it was discovered that UV isn’t powerful enough to reach the retina where these eye diseases occur. But guess which light type is powerful enough. You guessed it—blue light. And the research continues to come in that supports this concern.
Having a difficult time sleeping lately? We now know that blue light, and the lack thereof, helps us regulate our sleep patterns by modifying our melatonin levels. For example, blue light is strongest at midday, so it helps us to feel more alert. It continues to have the same effect as we stare at our screens right before bedtime. Doctors are now recommending we stop using our devices three hours before retiring to improve our sleep patterns.
What’s A Screen Addict To Do?
Reducing screen time seems to be like asking us to stop breathing. However, there are many options to protect your eyes. Eyeglass lens manufacturers have been hard at work and have developed lenses that block blue light. At Visionology, we’ve had excellent success with the Zeiss DuraVision BlueProtect lenses. Not only do they block blue light, they also are very scratch-resistant, easy to clean and have the industry’s best warranty.
There are many smartphone and tablet apps out there that reduce blue light. EasyEyes, f.lux, and Twilight are just a few. If your job doesn’t require you to have accurate monitor colors you can also adjust the brightness lower and the temperature warmer on your monitor. When you’re outside it’s recommended to wear high-quality sunglasses that not only block UVA and UVB rays, but also blue light. Brown, copper, or bronze-colored lenses block blue light the best.
Whether you have a family history of macular degeneration or not, now is the time to protect your vision. Products are rapidly entering the marketplace to make it easy to modify our blue light exposure. Get started toward better long-term eye health by consulting with your eye doctor.
Watch Dr. Peterson discuss blue light on KSL TV below.