The Dangers of Blue Light: Are You spending Too Long in Front of Your Computer?

Anyone who spends a lot of hours each day in front of their computer screen knows the strain that it can put on your eyes. Whether you are developing websites, doing company accounts or digital illustration, you are suspect to the blue light from your computer screen.

Too much exposure to this blue light over time can cause eyestrain and more serious damage to your eyes. However, if sitting in front of a computer is a necessity of your work, then you need to look at taking some precautionary measures to reduce the impact of blue light on your eyes.

What is blue light?

There colours blue, green, red, yellow, orange, indigo and violet make up sunlight. Though we don’t see these colours, they are present and each colour has a different wavelength and energy. On the colour spectrum, the rays of colour at the red end of the spectrum (red, orange and yellow) have less energy but longer wavelengths, while on the other end of the spectrum the blue coloured rays have more energy but shorter wavelengths.

Just beyond the red end of the spectrum are electromagnetic rays that are known as infrared, and are invisible but warming. At the other end of the spectrum on the blue end, where the highest energy resides, are blue-violet or violet light. These invisible electromagnetic rats are often referred to as UV (ultraviolet) radiation.

Light which actually looks like white, such as sunlight, actually has a large component of blue, which exposes the eyes to a great amount of wavelength from that end of the spectrum.

The dangers of UV Rays

As they have much more energy than light rays that are visible, UV rays are able to change the colour of our skin – think of a suntan. When you’ve been exposed to long periods out in the sun during the summer, your skin will tan or burn. This can eventually lead to skin cancer if the skin is exposed to too much UV.

In addition to your skin being damaged, it can also cause damage to your eyes. Not many people are aware of it, but your eyes are also prone to being sunburnt. This is a medical condition known as photokeratitis, though it is often called snow blindness. This is why it’s important to wear sunglasses or blue light glasses when you are outside in the summer, to prevent too much UV exposure to your eyes.

Benefits of Blue Light

Not all blue light is bad, and the body actually needs it for health benefits. Vitamin D is something that many people around the world have a deficiency of, and sometimes the body is unable to produce the necessary amounts of it that it needs.

This is why doctors often say to a patient to go outside in the sun for an hour a day. Of course, this will depend on the weather conditions outside, and whether or not you are in a country that has a lot of daily sunshine.

Blue light is also very important as it helps to regulate the body’s natural waking and sleeping cycle. Our circadian rhythm is regulated by blue light, and exposure to it during the day will help maintain this rhythm.

This is why many people who are often using their smartphone or tablet in bed at night before sleeping sometimes have a restless and poor quality of sleep. Too much exposure to blue light, especially during the hours before sleep, can disrupt the body’s natural sleep pattern.

The effects of blue light on the eyes

Our eyes are not very good at blocking blue light, even though they are very effective when it comes to blocking ultraviolet rays from reaching the retina which is located at the back of the eye. Literally all blue light will pass through our cornea and lens and hit the retina. Our eyes can prematurely age due to this happening.

Studies have shown that too much exposure to blue light can cause digital eye strain, which is something that mostly everyone who has to sit in front of a computer everyday has experienced.

Eyes can start getting tired and dried out. If you notice that your eyes start feeling irritated or itchy, or if you experience difficulty in focusing on what’s in front of you on your screen, then you are most likely suffering from digital eye strain.

Another result of too much blue light exposure is damage to your retinas. The cells in the retina can become damaged by a prolonged exposure to blue light, and can cause you problems with your vision.

Protecting your eyes from blue light

There are a number of things that you can do to help protect your eyes as you are working in front of your computer, or if you are constantly using your mobile or tablet.

The most obvious solution is to limit the amount of time you spend continuously in front of a screen. You should take frequent breaks from the screen, and give your eyes a break. Most people will work for 45-60 minutes before taking a 5 minute break. This is also good for your back and neck, as it gets you out of the sitting position you will find yourself in all day.

Screen filters are also another popular solution, and they can be applied to monitors, mobiles and tablets. These will reduce the amount of blue light that passes directly into your eyes and reaches your retinas.

One of the newest and most popular solutions are computer glasses, which have tinted lenses which block the blue light. The lenses are usually yellow, which increase the contrast of colours you see when wearing them. There are also glasses you can find in local opticians called blue light glasses, which are specifically to protect your eyes.

Some final words

Our eyesight is a gift, and we should do everything we can to protect our eyes from all of the bad elements that are around us everyday.

Blue light from computer screens is something that most people are not going to be able to avoid due to the work they do, whether it be in the real estate industry or the stock market, but there are some solutions as discussed in this article that can offer protection to your eyes, and reduce the amount of blue light that penetrates your eyes.