When asked to describe the color of sunlight, you would most likely say “yellow” or “white,” but the truth is that sunlight is actually made up of all the colors of the rainbow—red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet light. That’s why when light shines through a prism, you see rainbows form.
The sunlight is the largest source of blue light, but lately people have been wondering about the potential hazards associated with blue light exposure from devices such as computer monitors, tablet screens and smartphones.
The exposure you get to blue light from these screens is very small compared to the amount of blue light exposure you get from the sun. However, the large amount of screen time people tend to have each day, combined with the close proximity of those screens to the eyes, has raised some concerns about the effects of that long-term exposure. At Bayview Optometrics in Cape Cod, MA, we get lots of questions about this. Read on to learn more!
The effects of blue light on the eyes
First, it is important to note that blue light does have some benefits. It boosts alertness, elevates mood and helps memory and general cognitive function. It also helps to regulate the body’s natural awake and sleep cycle, known as the circadian rhythm. Exposure to blue light during the day helps maintain that rhythm, but too much exposure at night could result in that sleep cycle being thrown off.
There are some ways it can affect the eyes negatively, though.
Almost all blue light that’s visible goes through the lens and cornea and reaches the retina. This light could affect vision and result in premature aging. Some effects could include:
- Retina damage: Some studies indicate repeated long-term exposure to blue light could cause damage to the retinal cells, resulting in problems such as macular degeneration as you age.
- Digital eyestrain: Light that emanates from digital screens can cause digital eyestrain, which manifests itself with symptoms such as fatigue, dry eyes or irritated eyes and difficulty focusing.
What you can do
Fortunately, protecting yourself from the negative effects of blue light is simple. The biggest thing you can do is limit the amount of time you spend in front of your screens. This is not possible for everyone, as some people are on computers most of the day for work. But even in that case, if you take frequent breaks throughout the day, you should be just fine.
There are also screen filters available for devices that can decrease the amount of blue light they give off, making them easier to use on the eyes. These filters can either be attached to the screens themselves, or can come in the form of special computer glasses with tinted lenses.
Interested in learning more about blue light and its benefits and potential side effects? We encourage you to contact us at Bayview Optometrics in Cape Cod, MA today, and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you have about issues related to ocular health. We look forward to talking with you!