Blue Light 101: Everything You Should Know

May 05, 2023
Blue Light 101: Everything You Should Know
Could your computer be damaging your eyes? Does binge watching TV shows affect your vision? Take a quick course on blue light, and learn what the experts say about digital devices and eye health.

A quick online search for the term “blue light” produces more than 7 billion results because researchers, doctors, social media influencers, and everyone with eyes are concerned about what the blue-hued beams can do to vision health.

To cut through the confusion, Dr. Sophia Barnes, our experienced doctor of optometry at Vision Corner in Houston, Texas, explains blue light and its potential effects on your eye health. Here’s a guide that tells you what you need to know about blue light.

Breaking down blue light

Blue light is one of the most intense and energetic wavelengths in the light spectrum. It comprises approximately one-third of all visible light and vibrates between 380 and 500 nanometers, making it the shortest and most potent among all the colors. 

When most people think about blue light, they envision the invisible rays that emanate from digital devices like computers, smartphones, and laptops — and they’re right. But you may be surprised to learn that the sun is the main source of blue light, and the fluorescent bulbs in your office contain a significant amount of blue light, too. 

You get more blue light from your digital devices than the sun because you sit in front of them much of the day and even hold them close to your face. 

The good and the bad sides of blue light

Blue light gets a bad rap for a reason, and we’ll get into that. But first, take a moment to consider the benefits of blue light:

  • Increases alertness
  • Boosts brain function
  • Enhances memory
  • Improves moods
  • Regulates your sleep/wake cycle

Sunlight, including blue light, also plays a role in your child’s eye development as they grow.

Blue light becomes a problem when you have constant or long-term exposure, and these days, that describes everyone who uses digital devices regularly. Experts estimate that over 80% of American adults hover over their tablets and screens for more than two hours a day, and about 67% interact with two screens at the same time. That’s a lot of blue light.

Unfortunately, your eyes aren’t very good at blocking out blue light, so the harmful rays seep into your eyes and create problems.

The cons of blue light:

  • May damage retinal cells
  • Can lead to age-related macular degeneration
  • Contributes to the development of cataracts
  • May lead to eye cancer
  • Disrupts the natural circadian system that regulates sleep

When your sleep cycle is messed up, you’re at a higher risk for heart disease, sleep disorders, Type 2 diabetes, and cognitive impairments.

How to reduce the harm from blue light

Now that you know about blue light and its harmful effects, you can take steps to mitigate them. Dr. Barnes recommends the following precautions.

  • Use blue light filters on your digital devices
  • Follow the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds
  • Dim the lighting on your devices
  • Keep your eyes 20-28 inches from your screens
  • Wear blue light glasses

Dr. Barnes can help you select blue light glasses that fit your face and your lifestyle. Lenses that filter blue light reduce the negative effects caused by digital devices by 20%, and computer glasses with yellow-tinted lenses offer supreme comfort and minimize eye strain when working with electronic devices for extended hours. They also help you fall asleep and stay asleep. 

Blue light glasses also relieve eye strain and address computer vision syndrome symptoms, including headaches, blurry vision, and dry eyes.

Talk to Dr. Barnes about your daily screen time and find out if it’s affecting your eye health. Schedule an appointment by booking online or calling our friendly staff at Vision Corner.