What You Need to Know About Blue Light

Perhaps you’ve heard the term “blue light”, but aren’t sure if it affects you or not. There are definitely some misconceptions about blue light, where it’s found and the potentially harmful effects, so hopefully this post can help to shed some ‘light’ on the situation.

Where is blue light found?
Blue light is everywhere. Smartphones and other digital devices have been targeted as the main blue light culprits, but the truth is, sunlight is the main source of blue light. Being outdoors during daylight is where most of us get the majority of our blue light exposure. There are also many man-made, indoor sources of blue light, such as fluorescent and LED lighting and flat-screen televisions.

Of course, the screens of computers, tablets, smartphones and other digital devices emit significant amounts of blue light, but the amount of high-energy visible (HEV) light that they emit is only a fraction of that emitted by the sun. What is troubling to many optometrists and other eyecare professionals is the amount of time people spend using the devices and the proximity of the screen to the user’s face. The possible long-term effects of blue light on eye health are largely unknown.

What does blue light do to your eyes?
What we do know, is that all blue light is not bad. There is a particular range of blue light that is essential to our vision, the function of our pupillary reflex, and to human health in general. It also helps to regulate our circadian sleep/wake cycle.

We also know that blue light contributes to digital eye strain, and too much exposure can damage light-sensitive cells in the retina, leading to retina changes that resemble those of macular degeneration.

Clearly, more research is needed to determine how much natural and man-made blue light is “too much blue light” for the retina.

In the meantime, if you are a person who has significant exposure to blue light in the form of white LED or fluorescent light bulbs in offices and homes, are a frequent user of LED computer monitors, tablets or smartphones, or are already at high risk of macular degeneration due to family history or lifestyle, computer glasses with yellow-tinted lenses may increase comfort and protection.

Ask your optometrist about which type of vision correction and lens features best suit your needs.