Desktops, laptops, smartphones, tablets and televisions are commonly used devices in our ever-connected world. Most of us use a computer for several hours a day but may not be aware of eye related issues that come along with this technology.
What is Blue Light?
The issue at hand here is blue light.What is it,†where does it come from and why might it be harmful.
Dr. Steve Reinders of Complete Family Eyecare in Burnsville MN explains:
All LEDs (they’re used in the construction of your device screens) emit the full†spectrum of visible light which can be broken down into the colors of the rainbow. Each color has a certain wavelength and different degree of energy. Blue light has the shortest wavelength and gives off the highest energy whereas red light has the longest wavelength and lowest energy.
Headaches and Eye Strain
When blue light enters your eye, because it has a stronger energy and a shorter wavelength. Your eyes have more difficulty with focusing. Not only that, you may experience headaches and tired eyes.
While working on an LED device, your eyes use a process called accommodation in which small muscles within the eye work to focus the image properly. As high energy blue light enters the eye, it scatters more than any other color of light causing these eye muscles to spasm resulting in blurred vision, eye strain, tired eyes, and even headaches.
Difficulty Falling Asleep
As Dr. Reinders explains below, heavy computer and smartphone users may experience difficulty falling asleep and having a good night’s rest because of blue light:
Blue light affects your bodyís day/night cycle (circadian rhythm) by causing changes in melatonin levels, which induces sleep. Blue light disrupts the melatonin balance and circadian rhythm causing difficulty falling to sleep. Excessive blue light from LEDís before sleeping will ìtrickî your brain into thinking that it is day time. In effect, your brain cannot shut itself down causing insomnia and poor quality sleep resulting in fatigue the following day.
Risk of Damage to your Eyes
Macular degeneration used to be a problem with older people, but with the proliferation of advanced screen technology, optometrists are seeing more patients with issues attributable to heavy computer use.
From the doctor’s blog post:
High-energy blue light†can also affect the health of the eyes. The cornea (outer surface of the eye) allows blue light to pass directly into the eye to the light-sensitive retina and particularly the central vision portion of the retina call the macula. Studies have shown that blue light prematurely ages the macula and can increase the chances of developing macular degeneration which can be a visually devastating disease. Read more about macular degeneration here.
Blue light is everywhere (the sun, light bulbs and LEDs for example), not just from your computers and smartphones, and it’s next to impossible to avoid. There are a few†ways to approach this situation when it comes to your technology devices.
- Reduce the use of your devices in the evening
- Reduce the amount of blue light emitted by your devices, especially nearer to bed time)
- Filter out the blue light before it gets to your eyes.
The good doctor over at Complete Family Eyecare now carries eyeglass lenses that have a brownish tint to them, much like the blublocker sunglasses that were popular in the early 90’s. They can be made to accomodate pretty much any presription, including astigmatism, nearsightedness, farsightednes, as well as progressive and bifocal applications.
Products such as Blue Tech http://blutechlenses.com/ or Crizol Provncia http://www.crizalprevencia.com/†(which we offer at our clinic) have proven blue light protection which can be quite effective in reducing the effects of blue light.
Blue Light Reducing Applications
Some LED devices also have blue light reducing applications which can reduce some of the blue light from the device but have not proven as effective as blue filtering eyeglass lenses. They also do not reduce blue light from other sources in your environment.
There is a powerful, yet simple application that you can download to your computer or smartphone called f.lux (find it here) which decreases the amount of blue light emitted from your devices based on the time of day. This will help with the issues of being unable to fall asleep or not getting a good night’s rest because of the havoc from the elevated levels of melatonin. The team at Right-Click IT can help you install or configure the type of blue light reduction applications on your devices. Please call us during our normal hours.
To read more about computer eyestrain, please read this article:†http://completeeyecaremn.com/eyestrain-at-the-computer
If you are experiencing any of the common symptoms of blue light exposure from your LED based devices, your first step should be to see you eye doctor for a complete examination to rule out any other possible eye conditions. They can also offer you other suggestions to reduce eye problems at the computer and make you more productive while protecting your vision.
Excerpts reproduced with permission from†Complete Family Eyecare.