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The Dangers of Blue Light

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What is Blue Light?

​The visible light spectrum consists of all light that is visible to the human eye. The color of a ray of light changes depending on the amount of energy and the wavelength of the ray. Red light has a large wavelength meaning it has particularly low energy. On the other end of the spectrum is blue light. Blue light’s wavelength is tighter, giving it a higher amount of radiation energy.

The visible light spectrum consists of all light that is visible to the human eye. The color of a ray of light changes depending on the amount of energy and the wavelength of the ray. Red light has a large wavelength meaning it has particularly low energy. On the other end of the spectrum is blue light. Blue light’s wavelength is tighter, giving it a higher amount of radiation energy.

Sources of Blue Light

​You are exposed to blue light every day, through both sunlight and many man-made sources as well. We are exposed to blue light by:

  • Fluorescent lighting
  • LED lighting
  • Flat-screen television
  • Computer screens
  • Smartphones
  • Electronic readers
  • Other LED backlit devices​​

Is Blue Light Bad?

Daily exposure of natural blue light is healthy, but our increased exposure to artificial blue light brings dangers to our eyes and overall health. ​

Blue light can lead to permanent vision loss

Our eyes are not very good at blocking out blue light. Nearly all visible blue light passes through the cornea of the eye and reaches the retina. Constant blue light exposure to the eye can damage light-sensitive cells in the retina, resulting in a permanent decrease in vision.

Overexposure may cause trouble sleeping

Chronic exposure to blue light at night or before going to sleep can potentially cause restless sleep. When looking at phones in the dark at night, the harsh blue lights can be effectively potent on our eyes, leading to lower productions of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep.

Frequent blue light exposure may lead to Digital Eyestrain

We live in a period where technology is ingrained in our everyday lives. Whether it’s at work, at home, or out and about, it can be hard not to interact with technology. Overexposure to electronic screens can lead to Digital Eyestrain, a new term that describes the conditions that result from overuse of electronics.

Common symptoms of Digital Eyestrain include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Dry or irritated eyes
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Neck and back pain

A recent study shows that 70% of adults who regularly use electronics experience some symptoms of digital eyestrain.

Children can also be affected – sometimes more seriously than adults. A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that children between the ages of 8 and 18 spend more than 7 hours a day using electronics. Before the age of 10, the cornea of a child’s eye is not fully developed. Too much exposure to blue light can permanently impact the development of the eye.

How to Protect Your eyes from Blue Light

Limit screentime

Our optometrists in Reno, Carson City, Tahoe, and Fallon believe the best method to help prevent the harmful effects of blue light is to limit screen time use. While for some it may be hard to avoid using screens for work, simply taking 15 minutes every hour can help greatly reduce overexposure and eye strain. You can even give your eye muscles a rest by looking at something 20 feet away. Incorporate the use of lenses that our doctors can prescribe that eliminate the harmful exposure of blue light.

View screens from a distance

Distance from a screen can also play a huge role in how blue light affects the eye. Sitting too close to a computer, TV, or smartphone screen will increase the harmful effects of blue light. Try to keep your computer screens at least 20 inches away from your eyes, but with a display that makes it easy to read without squinting. This will help lower the amount of blue light exposure while also keeping you from drying out your eyes.

Avoid screens at night

Stop using screens an hour before going to bed. When you use electronics before bed, you are suppressing the release of melatonin, the hormone that regulates your sleep cycle. Your body uses melatonin to induce REM sleep and keep you alert the next morning. A great alternative is to read an old-fashioned book on paper under lamplight instead of fluorescent or LED lighting.
If you need a comprehensive eye exam or other eye treatment done by a Nevada eye doctor, schedule an appointment with an EyeZone optometrist at our Reno, Carson City, Lake Tahoe, and Fallon locations. EyeZone provides Nevada with the best brands in eyeglasses and contact lenses. 

Written by Daniel Rowan

Reno optometrist, Dr. Daniel Rowan, was raised in Western Canada and attended Norwich University in Vermont on a hockey scholarship. After obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree in both biology and sports medicine, he received his Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree from the New York College of Optometry in 2001. He performed rotations in a Queens VA hospital, specializing in glaucoma care, and an outpatient eye clinic in the Bronx. Immediately after graduating, he moved to Nevada and is now considered a top Reno optometrist. He is a member of the American Optometric Association and is board-certified by the National Board of Examiners in Optometry for the treatment and management of ocular diseases.
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