What effect does ‘blue light’ have on your eyes

Girl on phone

What is Blue Light?

Sunlight is made up of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet light. All these types of light combine to form the white light that we see. Each of the lights have a different energy and wavelength.  For example, while red rays have longer wavelengths and less energy, blue rays have shorter wavelengths and more energy.

Light that looks white usually has a larger component of blue light, meaning your eyes are exposed to higher amounts of energy. Meaning too much exposure to it could lead you to the eye clinic sooner than you would’ve hoped.

So where can we find blue light in our everyday lives?

Typically, digital devices like computers and smartphones emit blue light.

While the amount of blue light these devices give off is tiny compared to the amount that is emitted by the sun, the amount of time that you spend using these devices as well as how close the screen is to your face is of concern to your eye specialist.

So what exactly is the eye’s problem with blue light?

Your eyes are not very good at blocking out blue light

The human eye is remarkably effective at blocking UV rays from the sun. The percentage of UV radiation from the sun that reaches the light-sensitive retina at the back of the eyeball is less than one.

In contrast, almost all visible blue light is allowed to pass through the eye and reaches the retina. Continued exposure to blue light over time can lead to damaged retinal cells, which can cause problems with your vision.

Too much screen time leads to digital eyestrain

We’ve all felt it before, the feeling of dry or irritated eyes after binge-watching our favourite show or texting a friend in the dark. Eye specialists refer to that as digital eyestrain.

Blue light from your digital devices decrease contrast in your vision and can cause digital eyestrain. While symptoms are usually only temporary, some people may experience continued strain even after stopping work at a computer.

If you experienced continued systems of digital eyestrain, contact your nearest eye specialist in Johannesburg for a consultation.

Continued exposure to blue light can increase the risk of macular degeneration

Too much exposure to blue light damages the light-sensitive cells in the retina. This causes changes in your retina that resemble macular degeneration, a condition that can lead to permanent vision loss.

More research is required to determine how much blue light is too much. Still, eye specialists are concerned that the extended blue light exposure from digital devices could increase a person’s risk of macular degeneration later in life.

So what can we do to mitigate the effects of blue light on the retina?

  1. Limit screen time and take frequent breaks.
  2. Avoid bright screens before going to bed.
  3. Use artificial tears or eye drops when your eyes feel dry.
  4. Get yourself a pair of computer glasses with yellow-tinted lenses that increase contrast on screens.
  5. Reduce the amount of blue light that is emitted from devices, which also will protect your screen.
  6. Consult an eye specialist if you feel continued discomfort in your eyes.