Nowadays, screens are all around us. We are constantly glued to our smartphones, tablets, e-readers, computers, and flat-screen TVs and seem to hardly ever take a break from constantly staring at some type of screen. These screens emit blue light, which is the portion of the visible light spectrum with the shortest wavelengths and highest energy. Blue light has many important health benefits like boosting alertness, improving mood, increasing cognitive function, and regulating your circadian rhythm, and the majority of our exposure to blue light comes from the sun. However, concern over the proximity at which we look at screens and the amount of time we spend staring at them has raised concerns about how it can negatively impact our eye health.
The human eye is very good at blocking UV light from reaching our retina, but the same cannot be said for blue light. According to the Canadian Association of Optometrists, “Virtually all visible blue light passes through the cornea and lens and reaches the retina.” Because of this, overexposure to blue light may cause eye health issues such as cataracts, macular degeneration, eyestrain, and sleep issues. Additionally, children are more susceptible to blue light and the effects it has on eye health. While this may sound scary, there are plenty of things you can do to prevent overexposure to blue light and decrease the chance of your eye health being affected.
The first thing you can do is try to decrease your screen time and take frequent breaks from looking at a screen. This is especially important for children. Here are some general screen time guidelines for children:
- no more than two hours per day for children aged 5-18
- one hour per day for children aged 2-5
- avoid it completely for children under 2 years of age
Second, you can invest in a screen filter. Screen filters are available for smartphones, tablets, and computer screens. These filters block some of the blue light that is emitted and ultimately helps decrease the amount of blue light that reaches the retina.
The third thing you can do is get a pair of computer glasses. These glasses, which are supposed to be worn when in front of a screen, help block blue light from the screens and can help prevent digital eye strain.
Lastly, in order to help prevent blue light from throwing off your circadian rhythm, try to cut out screen time 1-2 hours before bedtime. Doing so will help your body stay in tune with its natural sleep-wake cycle.
For more tips on preventing eye issues associated with blue light, please speak with your optometrist.