Digital Eye Strain is a condition we’re hearing more and more about these days, especially with more remote work and online schooling happening than in years past. You’ve probably heard about how electronic devices emit harmful blue light, which affects eye health, vision and even sleep cycles. There are lots of myths being put forth as facts, and it can become confusing!
At Mann Eye Institute, we’d like to shed some light (but not the blue kind😎) on the topic.
What is blue light?
Blue light is a color in the visible light spectrum that can be seen by the human eye. Each color in the visible light spectrum has a different wavelength and energy level. This color has shorter wavelengths and higher energy than other colors.
Where does it come from?
Big myth alert! Many people think blue light comes from electronics. And that’s partially true. Although people often associate it with computers and phones, the largest source is sunlight*. Other sources include fluorescent light, compact fluorescent light bulbs and LED light. Exposure from screens is much less than the amount of exposure from the sun.
Is blue light dangerous?
Studies show there is some concern over the long-term effects of screen exposure as it relates to blue light, which has a shorter wavelength and produces a higher amount of energy. Some research shows a link between eye damage and short-wave blue light with wavelengths between 415 and 455 nanometers. Most of the light from the LEDs used in smartphones, TVs, and tablets has wavelengths between 400 and 490 nanometers**.
While some exposure is beneficial for boosting memory and cognitive function, too much exposure can be harmful, affecting the sleep/wake cycle and possibly even contributing to digital eye strain.
What is the main cause of digital eye strain?
The American Optometric Association defines Computer Vision Syndrome as digital eye strain caused by glare from electronics use as well as working distance, contrast, size of font and even lack of blinking. It should be noted that there is no scientific evidence that blue light from digital devices causes damage to your eye. Rather, it is the combination of time spent on electronics combined with the above-mentioned factors that causes digital eye strain.
Is lowering the brightness on digital devices enough?
If your screen glows brighter than your surroundings, your eyes have to work harder to see. Adjust your screen brightness to match the level of light around you. Also, try increasing the contrast on your screen to reduce eye strain.
But the best way to protect your eyes against eye strain is to take regular breaks using the “20-20-20” rule: every 20 minutes, shift your eyes to look at an object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. You can also use artificial tears to refresh your eyes when they feel dry.
Can blue light cause eye diseases or conditions?
So far, there is no evidence that the blue light from the screens that we typically use on a day to day basis cause eye disease. It can, however, cause fatigue, eye strain, and in some cases, affect sleep patterns.
What is the best way to reduce exposure?
Follow these tips from our vision specialists at Mann Eye Institute to make sure you (and your kids!) are safe from digital eye strain:
- Monitor screen time and take frequent breaks to give your eyes a rest.
- Use a screen filter to decrease blue light exposure. They are available for smartphones, tablets and computer screens.
Do I need to wear blue light glasses? How do I know which ones are the best?
“With our world becoming more dependent on screen usage, I recommend adding blue light protection to glasses. There is a particular part of the retina that absorbs this light, and in turn, this light can create eye strain, eye fatigue and even affect our sleep cycles. I added Prevencia by Essilor to my own glasses, and I have noticed a significant difference in how my eyes feel at the end of the workday. Prevencia cuts out the glare from screens and office lights, filtering out fatiguing blue light.”
David Riojas, OD
The Best Way to Know if Your Eyes are in Good Shape
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