Blue light is all around us. Some blue light is natural, emitted by the sun. This blue light is a short wavelength, high energy light that is responsible for how blue the sky can appear on a bright day. Other blue light is artificial and is produced by LED lights and digital screens, such as those of smartphones, computers, tablets, and televisions.
Although blue light may seem harmless, research has found that prolonged exposure to blue light can have some negative effects on both our vision and our health. One of these is a condition referred to as digital eye strain.
Digital eye strain, also known as computer vision syndrome, is a very common condition of the modern age. In fact, it is so common that The Vision Council reports that as many as 32% of American adults have experienced digital eye strain. The term is used to describe a variety of eye and vision problems that occur as a result of the prolonged use of digital devices and screens. Many of us are now heavily reliant on digital devices, whether it is for work or for staying connected in our day to day lives. Smartphones, tablets, laptops, and computer screens are used now more than ever before, whilst television screens are also getting larger, exposing our eyes to even greater levels of blue light.
Digital eye strain primarily occurs because it is much harder for our eyes to spend prolonged periods of time focused on screens. Many digital devices feature small print, pixelated images, and detail that can be difficult to detect unless we strain our eyes to focus. Simple factors such as too much or too little light, light focused at the wrong angles or sitting too close or too far away from the screen can all contribute towards digital eyestrain.
Digital eyestrain can have a number of effects on those people who suffer from it. The severity with which they experience these effects can vary depending on factors such as how long they have been using their digital device and any underlying vision or eye health issues that they have.
Some of the most common effects of digital eye strain include the following:
Headaches or migraines. These can vary from mild and manageable with pain relief to crushing and debilitating.
Blurred vision. Many people think blurred vision automatically means that they need glasses or contact lenses, but this isn’t always the case. With eyestrain, our eyes can become tired, and this can make our vision seem blurred.
Dry eyes. When we look at digital devices, our rate of blinking slows significantly. This can affect the amount of moisture present on our eyes, and a lack of natural lubrication can make our eyes feel dry, itchy, scratchy and stiff.
Disrupted sleep. You may have heard that you shouldn’t use digital devices before bed and thought it was a rumor created by parents to cut back on screen time. However, there is a great deal of science behind this suggestion. Blue light actually disrupts our circadian rhythm, tricking our brains into believing it is daytime when in fact, it is night. This can make it harder for people who use screens in the period before bed to fall asleep and stay asleep. Prolonged periods of disrupted sleep can have all manner of day to day effects, including loss of concentration, irritability, daytime fatigue, mood swings, and even depression.
The most effective way to protect your eyes from blue light and digital eye strain is to choose blue light blocking devices, including blue light blocking glasses. These glasses have a special lens that filters blue light out of the light around you before it enters your eye, reducing its effects. You can also get special filters that you place over digital devices to help reduce the amount of blue light that they produce.
For more advice on how to avoid digital eyestrain, please don’t hesitate to speak to our experienced and knowledgeable eye care team.