With people spending time on their screens now more than ever due to the coronavirus pandemic, the effects of blue light exposure are making headlines once more. Experts are weighing in on how tech users of all ages can protect their eyes from increased blue light exposure.
Understanding Blue Light
Visible light comes in a full rainbow of colors, from red to violet. On that spectrum, each color has its own energy and wavelength. On one end, there’s
While no one light is all good or all bad — there are pros and cons to most colors of light on the spectrum, including blue light — overexposure, or exposure to the wrong light at the wrong time, can have lasting effects on health.
Human exposure to blue light comes from a variety of sources. Due to the overuse of devices that emanate blue light, like smartphones and tablets, we’re getting more exposure than ever before.
Dr. Robert Weinstock, of the Eyesafe Vision Health Advisory
Signs and Effects of Exposure
Overexposure to blue light rays doesn’t show up immediately. Much like how too much exposure to the sun’s UV rays appears in sunburn, blue light impact reveals itself in more subtle ways. You may notice your child having trouble falling asleep, or staying asleep, due to blue light’s impact on natural circadian rhythms. “Before bed, we need to have a natural decrease in light exposure to
He adds, “When a child is exposed to phones and tables for a long period of time, especially at night, it’s unnaturally exposing them to blue light.Therefore, it’s suppressing melatonin production and preventing the child from sleeping well.”
For kids, a bad night of sleep can result in poor concentration, agitation, irritability, and difficulties in school. “Interfering with the wake and sleep cycle of the circadian rhythm is a significant problem with children exposed to blue light on devices.”
Not to mention, too much exposure to blue light can lead to retinal problems down the road.
How to Protect Your Eyes
Dr. Raj Maturi, clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Opthalmology and a retina specialist, and other doctors advise a 20-20-20 approach. For every 20 minutes spent staring at a screen, you should take a break and look 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds.
“When you are looking at a close target, your eyes are just training that one muscle at all time, and looking into the distance can relieve it,” Maturi told CNN.
Doctors also advise blinking regularly because when people tend to stare at bright subjects, like screens, they tend to blink less and get dry eyes. To combat dry eyes, artificial tears or humidifiers near your work station can help.
Screen position is also important. The top of your screen should be in line with your eyes about 18 to 30 inches from where you are sitting and tilted back slightly. “If you are looking down, then your eyelid is shut a bit and you’re not having as much evaporation — which can help prevent dry eyes. If you’re looking up high, your eye dries much quicker,” Dr. Rachel Bishop told CNN.
These days, many cell phones and tablets have blue light filters already built-in. Beyond this, there are well-established and scientifically proven products on the market designed to limit exposure. Another step Weinstock suggests: limiting screen time closer to bedtime. When it’s not time to work or learn, doctors recommend going outdoors while practicing social distancing.