Everything You Need to Know About Blue Light
Blue light is a type of high-energy visible (HEV) light, which offers a wavelength of between 420 to 480 nanometers on average. (Source) To learn more about where blue light is found and how it can affect your vision, scroll down, or click below to check out our related blogs.
What is blue light, and where is it found?
Just as sunlight excretes ultraviolet (UV) light, it releases blue light, too. However, unlike UV light, you can see blue light, as it is a part of the visible light spectrum. The light spectrum features a range of light waves from visible to invisible light. And blue light, which is close to the center of this spectrum, is considered to have one of the shortest wavelengths, which means some of the highest energy.
In addition to being in sunlight, blue light is in artificial light from electronic devices, such as computers, smartphones, and TVs. Most people are concerned about blue light since more than 6 in 10 adults use their technological devices for more than five hours per day, and 14 percent of people exceed 10 hours on them, according to the American Optometric Association (AOA). (Source)
Remember: Our bodies need a certain level of blue light. However, excess exposure can affect our eyes and health in many ways.
Does blue light cause eye damage or sleep issues?
While your eyes and sunglasses can deter most UV light, blue light can be more challenging to filter. As a high-energy visible light, it enters your eyes via the cornea (the outside of your eye) and heads for the retina (the inner part of the eye) and photoreceptors, which are responsible for helping you see images. (Source)
The impact on your retina may be similar to what someone with age-related macular degeneration, the top cause of blindness in adults ages 50 and up, may experience. (Source) Retinal damage can also cause eye fatigue, much like increased exposure to digital devices can do in the form of computer vision syndrome (or digital eye strain). (Source)
There is no evidence that blue light causes long-term eye damage. However, limiting your exposure can alleviate symptoms of digital eye strain, including eye fatigue. With 9 in 10 people getting digital eye strain after exceeding three hours in front of the computer, monitoring screen time has never been more critical. (Source)
In addition to how blue light affects your eyes, exposing yourself to blue light via electronic devices for extended periods can affect how much melatonin your body makes. This can make you feel more awake and vigilant during the day, but once nighttime approaches, your circadian rhythm (the body’s ability to differentiate morning from the night and establish healthy sleep patterns) may be affected. (Source)
The same photoreceptors that help you to make out the details on images regulate your sleep. And according to one study, using digital devices and other forms of artificial light before bed can reduce your sleep by up to 14 minutes. (Source) This may not seem like a lot, but consider how much time this is over a year.
How can blue light affect children’s eyes?
Without proper precautions to protect your children’s eyes from blue light, retinal damage can occur. Blue light enters the retina, where photoreceptors convert it into an electrochemical form, which helps you see images and establish healthy sleep habits. (Source)
Children may be more likely than an adult to experience retinal damage from blue light since their eyes take in less short light wavelengths, opening up the path for a higher quantity of blue light to enter the retina. To reduce this exposure, motivating your little ones to establish healthy screen habits at a young age is essential.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 5-year-olds (and under) should not exceed an hour of screen time per day. Infants under 12 months of age should avoid screens altogether. (Source)
One survey noted that 80 percent of kids had burning eyes or eye fatigue after spending extended periods on their handheld devices and playing video games. As symptoms of digital eye strain, this is important to consider, and as a parent, you may be unaware of how long your child is using the computer. In one study, the AOA concluded that 83 percent of 10-year-olds to 17-year-olds spend over three hours per day on their devices, while just 40 percent of parents know their children are accessing technology for that same period. (Source)
Consider that most children come into contact with blue light via their handheld devices, TVs, and video games. If their screen time is not regulated, your children may experience side effects of computer vision syndrome, including eye strain, just as an adult would. (Source)
Here are some other things that can be impacted if your child uses digital devices too often without taking breaks and getting active:
- Attention and motor skills
- Creativity and problem-solving skills
- General communication skills
The light given off by digital devices may not be strong enough to impact the retina by itself. However, it can trigger the photoreceptors responsible for synchronizing your sleep cycle. That is one of the reasons why experts suggest limiting screen time two hours before bed.
Instead of spending all their time on digital devices, encourage your children to go outdoors or to pick up new hobbies that don’t require screen time, such as baking, crafts, or sports. Getting active outside and enjoying plenty of sleep (instead of using devices too often during the day and before bed) can help your child become happier and healthier overall, now and in the future.
Should you implement the 20-20-20 rule?
Adults and children use digital devices every day, from cell phones to video game systems. Consider that the hours you spend on the computer each day at work are similar to what your child does at school. And then when you both get home, it’s not uncommon to reach for the remote or turn to your devices for some much-needed relaxation.
Our eye doctors recommend the 20-20-20 rule to help your eyes recover from prolonged screen time. What is the 20-20-20 rule? It means resting your eyes for 20 seconds after 20 minutes of screen time by observing something 20 feet away from your face.
This seems like a standard rule. However, not many people follow it. A little less than one-third of kids go 60 minutes on the screen without giving their eyes a break. (Source) If your children play online games with their friends, this number can be even higher since they may be having too much fun to step away.
Beyond frequent breaks and blue-light glasses, you can help with your child’s exposure to blue light by getting an app that dims the light on their devices via a timer. Many apps can be added to your child’s computer, which can help keep their exposure to a minimum. You can also order blue-light filters for your screens.
Remember that even though your child faces blue light every day, protecting yourself from blue light is just as important. Impose limits on screen time for the adults in the house, such as you and your spouse, and your eyes will thank you for it.
What are the pros and cons of blue-light glasses?
If you’re worried about the symptoms of excessive exposure to blue light and can’t step away from your digital devices before bed, blue-light glasses are an option. For Eyes offers Blue Protect, a lens coating, which can help prevent eye strain caused by your subjection to blue light from electronic devices and environmental sources.
You might think that blue-light glasses have a blue tint. However, this is untrue. Most blue-light glasses feature a yellow hue and an anti-reflective coating to reduce glare. You can also get prescription blue-light glasses for the best vision.
Pros of Blue-Light Glasses
Eye strain, caused by blue light exposure and computer vision syndrome, can be painful. Blue-light glasses offer a way to control this symptom so that you can enjoy more comfortable, relaxed vision.
Just remember that blue-light glasses won’t fix your eye health. You’ll still need to take frequent breaks away from the screen, keep your computer at a proper viewing distance (more than 20 inches away from your face and approximately five inches lower than eye level), and blink as often as you can to prevent dry eye syndrome. (Source)
Another pro of blue-light glasses is that they can be worn all day. So, don’t stress if you’re worried that your screen time is at an all-time high, and you need a little assistance. Blue Protect has you covered.
Cons of Blue-Light Glasses
Blue Protect is not available for contact lenses, so if this is your preferred method of vision correction, you’ll want to ask your optometrist about glasses. The process is simple. All you’ll need to do is book an eye exam if it’s been more than a year since your last appointment.
Also, it’s never bad to have glasses on hand either way. Even beyond using lenses for blue-light protection, we recommend having a second form of vision correction in case your first pair gets damaged, and you can’t make it into the store for a replacement.
How can you reverse blue light damage?
There is no one method to heal issues that may have been caused by blue light. The best ways to take care of these problems are to limit how often you use screens and to set expectations for your family.
Explain to your children why they should stay off their devices before bed, and be prepared to answer their questions, such as:
- “Why is blue light bad?” Blue light is not bad. It helps your body by making you more alert during the day at school. However, just like the food you eat, having too much of one thing is never good. Blue light can also cause eye problems, such as eye strain, if you don’t take precautions or if you’re exposed for too long.
- “When do I need to wear my blue-light glasses?” Blue-light glasses are safe to wear during all hours of the day and outside. At a minimum, you should wear this eyewear anytime you’re using electronic devices or while at school.
- “What if I forget to put my blue-light glasses on before I go to school?” That’s no problem. It’s okay to forget from time to time. Perhaps, you can place them in a case on your nightstand to help you remember to put them on each morning.
In addition to speaking with your children about blue light and eye damage, we recommend setting up a comprehensive eye exam at your nearest optical store. For Eyes has locations across the nation, and our Independent Doctors of Optometry would love to speak with you and your children about concerns regarding blue light.
Want to learn more about blue light?
Click below for everything you need to know about blue light, including why blue light makes annual eye exams even more important and how too much time on screens could be causing eye damage.