Computers. Smartphones. Tablets. High-def televisions. Refrigerators. Printers. Motor vehicle dashboards. Outdoor advertising. You name it, a bright digital screen is likely an essential component. But when you really think about how many digital screens your eyes are exposed to throughout a 24 hour period, it can start to feel like your eyes are being bombarded by some intense periods of high-energy blue light.
Unfortunately, that can lead to some common symptoms that many of us might suffer with sporadic or chronic severity. Have you experienced feelings of fatigue in your eyes or even headaches after sitting in front of your computer for an extended length of time? Do you have issues with blurred vision or blank spots in your vision that flare up and dissipate without warning? Maybe you find that your eyes are dry from time to time and the discomfort is enough to require eye drops on a somewhat regular basis.
If you are experiencing these or other types of symptoms related to your vision, these could be a result of prolonged exposure to high-energy blue light or HEV. These issues are just some of the effects this type of light can have on your eyesight and your overall well-being. The more common term for these symptoms is digital eye strain and it can have some long-term, cumulative damaging effects on your eyes. Not only could you realize that your vision is being compromised in some way or your eyes feeling tired and dry but exposure to this form of light can also disrupt your sleep.
That's because the blue light that is emitted from our digital screens works to regulate our bodies' circadian rhythms. Blue light can actually be beneficial to us when exposed in regulated doses and this light, along with the blue light that comes from the sunlight during day hours, is important for alerting our bodies when it's time to be awake and when it's time to wind down and be ready to go to sleep at night. But when you expose your eyes and brain to this same blue light that should be emitted in the day time during the evening, particularly right before you go to bed, that can be detrimental to your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Our brain relies on the secretion of melatonin which is a natural chemical the body produces to initiate and promote sleep.
But too much blue light exposure throughout the day and well into the night can disrupt the normal secretions of melatonin, making it tougher to fall asleep. The quality of sleep can also be negatively impacted as well, leaving you feeling tired and sluggish when you wake up and keeping you fatigued as you carry on with your normal day.
Blue Light Glasses
With so many screens surrounding us, day in and day out, it's important to try to minimize the effects of this blue light on our eyes, particularly when we are perched in front of a computer screen for seven, eight or more hours a day. The best way to do that is by filtering out the levels of HEV we are receiving from the screens we are viewing most often. A reduction of light from those devices can be instrumental in preventing the long-term damage that can occur from an overabundance of blue light exposure to our crystalline lens, cornea, and retina.
But you may be wondering how this form of light can be so damaging to the eyes. It's one thing to stare directly into the sun, but it's another thing to stare at your laptop for half the day without respite. Well, let's consider the sun for a second. It provides us with natural, life-sustaining light and is made up of a spectrum of colors that include blue, orange, red, yellow, even green light, all of which are present due to electromagnetic radiation.
Step outside and you will be exposed to all of these colors of the light spectrum as they combine to create the sunlight we receive every day. Each of these colors is made of light rays along different sized wavelengths containing different strength levels of energy within. Longer wavelengths contain less energy while shorter wavelengths contain, you guessed it, higher amounts of energy. Going back to the various colors of light that comprise sunlight, red is among the longest of wavelengths so it will contain some of the lowest levels of energy.
But blue light travels along much shorter wavelengths which means it contains some of the strongest energy of all the light across the spectrum. That's why it's often referred to as “high-energy blue light” which gives it similar properties as ultraviolet (UV) light. This is the form of light that your computer, your TV, your smartphone or tablet, and the screen in your new car's dashboard emit every time they are operational. That means your eyes are taking in that energy from blue light whenever you look directly as these screens.
Wearing a pair of blue light glasses can be highly effective at filtering this exposure to your eyes and greatly reducing the symptoms that one can experience from too much blue light exposure to the retina, resulting in less digital eye strain. You can find blue light glasses available in prescription and neutral versions so that individuals who need glasses to correct their vision can also do their eyes a world of good by filtering out the damaging effects of blue light. Those with perfect vision can get a pair of neutral or non-prescription lenses with blue light filtering capabilities.
The lenses in both instances are designed to filter nearly half of the blue light that is emitted from your computer, smartphone, or tablet screens and up to 95% of the strongest wavelengths of light but without any yellow tints that often come about from regular light filters.
Blue light glasses really can help by reducing the glare of blue light and eliminating the symptoms of headaches, dry eyes, blurred vision, dead spots, and eye strain that come with it.