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Posted on 06-20-2017

Blue Light Exposure and Eye Health

You may have heard to turn off your phone at night or leave it in another room when you go to sleep.  The effects of blue light, a phenomenon that has become more prevalent as digital devices occupy more and more of our time, however, it is not just relegated to our digital devices but from LED lights and our LED television sets.  The blue light emitted from these devices can affect our eyes, memory & mood, and our overall eye health.

We all know about UV rays, but stepping outdoors into sunlight; flipping on a wall switch indoors; turning on your computer, phone or other digital device — all of these things result in your eyes being exposed to a variety of visible (and sometimes invisible) light rays that can have a range of effects.
Most notably, the display screens of computers, electronic notebooks, smartphones and other digital devices emit significant amounts of blue light. The amount of HEV/blue light these devices emit is only a fraction of that emitted by the sun but a number of time people spend using these devices and the proximity of these screens to the user’s face has raised concerns in the medical community about blue light’s effect on eye health.

This is not to say that all blue light is detrimental; blue light from the sun plays an enormous part in regulating circadian rhythms and if after spending a lot of time on your phone or computer your sleep can be affected.  Additionally, a deficiency in blue light exposure in children has been linked to the development of myopia, otherwise known as nearsightedness.  On the other hand, too much exposure to blue light has been linked to digital eye strain, and over time, can damage the retina and lead to more serious conditions such as macular degeneration.

What can you do to protect your eyes?

  • Screen time - At the office or at home, try to decrease the amount of time spent in front of these screens and/or take frequent breaks to give your eyes a rest.
  • Filters - Screen filters are available for smartphones, tablets, and computer screens. Some smartphones have a night time screen available. They decrease the amount of blue light given off from these devices that could reach the retina in our eyes. Applications like f.lux  add an overlay to your screen that adjusts according to the time of day.
  • Computer glasses - Computer glasses with Blue light technology will help ease computer digital eye strain by increasing contrasts and decrease the amount of blue light reaching your retina.

Because the digital age is still in its relative infancy, a lot of questions are unanswered regarding the long-term effects of too much blue light. Fortunately, there is a myriad of apps and devices to help protect your vision for years to come. Ask your doctor about what options are right for you.

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