The world that we are living in now is very different than what we were used to just a couple of years ago. We are working from home more often, working on computer screens and even educating ourselves and our children online. The question arises as to whether or not all of this increase in screen time is ruining our eyes? We do know that it is causing a phenomenon called Digital Eye Strain (DES). DES has been of growing prevalence prior to the COVID 19 pandemic; however these past two years has caused it to grow exponentially. Many people are stating that their eyes feel more fatigued after looking at computer screens all day and that digital screens cause more symptoms compared to printed materials.
Blue light is a part of the visible light spectrum and it has the shortest wavelength with the highest amount of energy. Sunlight is considered to be the largest source of natural blue light. Artificial sources include fluorescence lights, LED TVs, computer monitors and smartphones. Blue lights boost alertness, mood and helps with memory and cognitive function. The natural blue light produced by the sun is important for proper growth and development of the eyes and vision in children.
Blue light exposure from digital screens is small compared to the amounts produced by the sun. There is rising concern about long term screen use and the amount of blue light that is absorbed by the eyes. Blue light is not well blocked by the eye and is able to pass the cornea and lens and reach the retina. Continuous exposure to blue light over time can potentially damage the retina and lead to visual changes including macular degeneration and early onset cataracts. Blue light before bedtime can also cause a disruption in your sleep pattern.
So how does blue light lead to DES? Blue light scatters more easily compared to other visible light which increases visual “noise”. Visual “noise” is constant electrical stimulation to the retina which has to be processed by the brain. This noise reduces contrast and can contribute to DES. We also tend to blink our eyes less when looking at digital devices which can lead to an increase in dry eye and eye strain.
Do blue light glasses work? While there is no consensus on whether or not blue light glasses work or not, they can reduce overexposure to blue light. You can turn on blue light blocking filters on smartphones and digital devices as well. It is also important to practice the 20-20-20 rule (look 20 feet away every 20 minutes for 20 seconds) to prevent digital eyestrain. Another good preventative method is to set up a good working distance from your computer screen, avoid excessive glare from lights and windows and make sure that minor vision problems are properly corrected.
If you have further questions about blue light and its effects on your eyes, call 860-233-2020 to schedule an appointment with one of our eye care specialists today.