Everyone knows that sunscreen and sunglasses help protect your eyes from the ultraviolet radiation (UV rays) of the sun, but those same blue violet rays can also be emitted from electronic devices. Some examples of artificial sources of blue violet light, commonly known as blue light, are smartphones, computers, tablets, LEDs, and CFLs.
As we increase our use of digital devices, we put our eyes at risk for retinal damage. Humans can only perceive a portion of the wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum between wavelengths of 390 nm to 700 nm. Blue light has a wavelength of 380 nm to 500 nm, which means it is one of the shortest, highest-energy wavelengths. These waves create a glaring effect on the eyes and can lead to eye fatigue, dry eye, blurred vision, headaches, and nearsightedness. Continued exposure to blue light can cause photochemical damage, which in turn can harm retinal cells and makes us susceptible to age-related macular degeneration (Source: Business Standard).
How can we protect ourselves from eye damage associated with blue light if digital devices surround us on a daily basis? Here are some practical ways to protect your eyes from blue light damage:
- Limit screen time when you are not working. It is impossible to avoid digital devices in the workplace, but you can reduce the amount of time you spend on electronics when you are not working. Digital devices often provide a passive "escape" from reality that seems enjoyable, but it can be a poor use of your time and can just increase eye fatigue and muscle strain.
- If you use your devices at night, download a blue light filter app. There are several free apps in your App Store that will put a filter on the screen of your smartphone or tablet to reduce glare at night. This will help reduce eye fatigue.
- Try not to use your devices directly before bedtime. Overexposure to blue light can cause restlessness and insomnia. Set a limit of turning off your devices at least one hour before bedtime and charge your devices in a different room so you are not tempted to turn them back on.
- Blink, blink, blink. One reason that we are more susceptible to dry eye when using electronics is that our blink rate is reduced significantly. Put a post-it note on your computer screen that says "Blink"! Blinking more often will keep your eyes moist and refreshed.
- Get regular comprehensive eye exams. There is no substitute for an eye exam by a licensed specialist. Schedule regular eye exams to ensure your vision stays clear and healthy. You can also talk to your ophthalmologist about prescribing protective lenses with blue light filters to reduce eye strain.