Understanding How Blue Light Affects Your Eyes

Light plays an important role in our life. Visible light affects our mental and physical health in a much more complex way than you think. Stepping outdoors into sunlight or flipping on a wall switch indoors exposes you to a variety of visible and invisible light rays that can affect you both positively and negatively.

With the increasing amount of screentime due to the convenience and necessity coming from social media, entertainment, work and study, most of us are exposed to blue light from electronic devices one way or another. You may have known, or experienced a lot of eye problems linked to blue light from electronics, such as blurry vision, eyestrain, dry eye, macular degeneration, and cataracts.

But in what way does blue light affect your eyes? Here is what you need to know.

Blue Light and Your Eyes

While light comes in a visible light spectrum with various colors, each has a different wavelength and energy level. Blue light has the shortest wavelength and highest energy of them all. Most of the blue light sources generated by smartphones, TVs and tablets have a wavelength from 400 to 490 nanometers, and wavelengths from 415 nanometers can really damage your eyes. Some research also shows a link between blue light’s high energy and eye diseases, which raises concerns about the negative effects of digital screens. Digital eye strain now affects more than 50% of computer users with symptoms such as dry, irritated eyes and blurred vision.

Here are some consequences that may come from constantly interacting with blue light:

Retina Damage

Blue light has been proven to damage your retinas, which is known as phototoxicity. How bad the damage is depends on the light source wavelength and the amount of time your eyes are exposed to it. However, even exposure that is as short as a few minutes can also be harmful. The good news is a filter that cuts 94% of blue light has been shown to significantly lessen the damage.

Macular Degeneration

Almost all blue light passes straight to the back of our retinas (the inner lining of the back of the eye), which can lead to permanent vision changes and increase the risk of many retina diseases, such as macular degeneration. Some studies have proven that blue light triggers the release of toxic molecules in the photoreceptor cells. This causes the damage that may lead to age-related macular degeneration. Moreover, as blue light penetrates all the way to the retina, it can damage light-sensitive cells, which causes changes that resemble those of macular degeneration. In worst cases, it can lead to permanent vision loss.

Digital Eye Strain

Being more easily scattered than other visible light, bluelight is not as easily focused. This unfocused visual noise reduces contrast and leads to digital eye strain when you look at computer screens and digital devices that emit blue light for too long. Fortunately, researches have shown that lenses that block blue light with wavelengths less than 450 nanometers can increase contrast significantly, thus increase comfort when you are staring at digital screens for an extended amount of time.

Extra Damage for Eyes after Cataract Surgery.

Adult human eye blocks nearly 100% of the sun’s UV rays, and as a part of the aging process, our eye’s natural lens eventually blocks some short-wavelength blue light as well. The last stage of our eyes’ aging process is cataract, which means permanent vision loss. Many choose to have cataract surgery, to have intraocular lenses replaced with their cloudy natural lens. However, as it is not our natural lenses, it’s important to ask your surgeon what type of lens will be used, and how much blue light protection it can provide. Moreover, it may be beneficial to wear eyeglasses with special blue light filter post cataract surgery – especially when you sit in front of a computer screen or other digital devices for an extended amount of time.

Blue Light Filters and Protective Eyewear

Although we don’t know exactly how much man-made blue light is too much for the retina, it is quite clear that the added blue light exposure from computer screens, smartphones and other digital devices increases your risk of vision loss later in life. The experts at Block Blue Light explain that if you are using your phone or laptop constantly – especially for primary purposes such as texting, emailing or web browsing – you can most definitely benefit from blue light blocking computer glasses. These special-purpose glasses are available with and without prescription, so you can use them whether you need to correct your eyesight or not. They can also be specially prescribed to optimize your vision and come in many different styles.

Most of us are aware of the harm of sunlight or invisible ultraviolet rays as they can tan and burn the skin, but we don’t usually notice visible light like blue light because the harm doesn’t show right away. With this article, we hope to help you take an extra step towards protecting your eye health.