Between working on a computer, scrolling through social media, binging Netflix, and all the other ways we regularly use electronics, we are exposed to large amounts of blue light. You may have heard claims that blue light from electronic screens can cause eye fatigue and headaches. How can you prevent these symptoms? Read on to find out.
What is blue light?
Every screen you use emits blue light. On the light spectrum, blue light falls between 415 nanometers (nm) and 455 nm, meaning that this type of light has more energy than other light waves. According to a study from the National Center for Biotechnology Information, this kind of blue light exposure can heighten visual fatigue, nearsightedness and even impact learning and work performance.
It’s important to note that exposure to blue light not only stems from screens, but from daylight. But the main problem comes from overexposure — especially at night. Increased screen time at night can disrupt your sleep cycle and impact the quality of your sleep.
Blue light glasses
With increased screen time, it’s important to protect your eye health — and blue light glasses are a proposed solution. These glasses are designed to block or filter out blue light rays with the claim of decreasing eye fatigue from increased screen use.
Although several studies have been conducted, there are no conclusive results yet as to whether blue light glasses really work. However, more studies are currently underway to examine the long-term effects of using blue light glasses, so more forthright answers could be right around the corner.
In the meantime — whether you choose to use blue light glasses or not — there are ways to manage and lower the amount of blue light you’re exposed to on a daily basis. It certainly won’t hurt to use them, but there are other steps you can take in conjunction with wearing them.
How to manage blue light
In a world with smartphones and working from home, you might be facing more screen time than ever before. This can result in dry eyes, headaches, inability to focus and more. Try these tips for avoiding the symptoms of blue light exposure:
- Take frequent breaks. If you stare at a computer screen for a large portion of your day, this will be especially important. Make sure to find time throughout your day to get up, move around and do a screen-free activity.
- Treat dry eyes. A common symptom of overexposure to blue light is dry eyes. If you experience this symptom, you can try over-the-counter eye drops to alleviate dryness. However, if this symptom continues, consider speaking with an ophthalmologist — there are prescription-strength drops available if needed.
- Avoid screens at night. Repeated late night screen use can disrupt your sleep quality and schedule. Avoid looking at screens two to three hours before bedtime.
Whether or not you use blue light glasses, find ways to minimize your screen time and limit overexposure to these harmful rays. If you experience continued visual problems, schedule an appointment with a doctor near you.
This article first appeared in the June 2021 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter and was updated in August 2023.