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The Dangers of Blue Light

Beneficial Effects of Blue Light

There are merits to blue lightBlue light helps regulate circadian rhythm (our natural sleep cycle), improves alertness, boosts mood and is helpful with memory and cognitive functions.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression that usually manifests during fall and winter with shortened periods of daylight, is often treated with light therapy - white light that contains the blue light wavelengths.

Damaging Effects of Blue Light

There are some healthcare and eye care professionals who have concerns about the possible harmful effects of blue light and feel that increased exposure to blue light emanating from our devices may lead to the development of macular degeneration.

To date, there is no physical proof or scientific evidence that blue light causes any damage to the eyes.

Blue Light and Sleep and Eye Strain

Blue light is known to wake us up and stimulate us.  But can it keep us up at night?

Blue light may indirectly keep us up.  Excessive amounts of blue light from our phones, tablets and computers may suppress production of melatonin.  Decreased melatonin may make it harder to get to sleep and therefore disrupt your biological clock.

Fatigue and dryness are often blamed on too much screen time (increased amounts of blue light), but may indeed be symptoms of “digital eye strain.”  Digital eye strain is really a normal phenomenon where we blink less frequently when concentrating and staring at our devices. In essence, our eyes get dry.

With prolonged periods of concentration or reading, our eyes get tired, fatigued and dry due to decreased blinking.  To combat these symptoms, consider the following:

  • Use artificial tears to lubricate the eyes
  • Adjust your screen allowing your eyes to angle slightly downward
  • Follow the 20-20-20 rule (see below)

The 20-20-20 Rule

Every 20 minutes look away from your device, refocus on an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds!

In addition, using a device screen which is much brighter than the ambient light may increase symptoms of eye strain.  Consider adjusting either room lighting or adjusting contrast settings on the device to reduce the symptoms of fatigue/strain during digital screen use.