Students looking at smartphones

What is blue light, anyway?

Sunlight contains 25-30 percent blue light, so some blue light is natural. Other sources of blue light include fluorescent light bulbs, computer monitors, tablets, readers and smartphones. We all know that too much exposure to ultraviolet light causes sunburn. Since blue light is next to violet on the light spectrum, it has some harmful effects as well.

More research is needed to find out how much blue light is harmful to our eyes. But, since eyes are not very good at blocking blue light, many eye care providers are concerned that additional blue light exposure from digital devices may increase our risk of macular degeneration later in life.

What are the effects of blue light?

Blue light from digital devices creates visual “noise” which reduces contrast and can cause digital eye strain. Nearly 70 percent of adults who regularly use media devices report experiencing some symptoms of digital eyestrain! But very few do anything to avoid or relieve symptoms.

Symptoms can include: tired eyes, shoulder pain, headache, fatigue, eye irritation and pain, blurred or double vision, light sensitivity, tearing, dry eyes and trouble focusing.

What can help reduce digital eyestrain?

  • 20-20-20 rule. Try taking a screen break every 20 minutes, and look 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
  • Blue light blocking app. Try f.lux, or Twilight. iPhone users have a blue light blocking feature that comes with the newest update.
  • Blue-blocking filter. Wearing eyeglass lenses with blue blocking filters can help reduce strain.
  • Anti-reflective coatings. Using eyeglasses with anti-reflective coatings eliminates reflections and glare. This reduces the harmful effects of blue light.
  • Special computer eyewear. Gunnar Optiks make amber-colored lenses that filter blue light and add contrast to define shapes and sharpen detail. These lenses can also help prevent dry eyes and irritation from too much screen time.

If you have questions or would like to learn more about special computer eyewear, talk to your eye care provider or stop by the Health & Wellness Services vision clinic. At our clinic you can try on Gunnar eyewear and experience its blue light blocking benefits.