What is Blue Light, and How Does it Affect Your Eyes?

Excessive exposure to blue light from computer screens can lead to digital eyestrain, headaches, and dry eyes. Here’s what you can do to keep your eyes protected. OptiExpress offers comprehensive eye exams, contact lens fittings, a gallery of designer frames, and a one-hour onsite lab.

There’s a lot of talk about blue light and how it can contribute to eye strain and discomfort. But what is it, really?

Natural light, or sunlight, consists of multiple colors that, when combined, ultimately produce the effect of white light. Each light – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet – has a different wavelength and different energy that changes along the spectrum, which is why these lights appear in that order when refracted in a prism and seen as a rainbow. Red light has the longest wavelength and the lowest energy, while blue and violet lights have the shortest wavelength and the highest energy.

Constant exposure to blue light is thought to trigger sleep disturbance and eyestrain. Sunlight has the highest level of blue light, followed by fluorescent bulbs and television and computer screens. While there is more blue light in sunlight than other light sources, daily sunlight exposure is finite – the sun eventually sets, after all. Computer screens and television exposure can occur 24 hours per day and don’t necessarily vary in brightness or intensity. This type of constant exposure might cause headaches, fatigue, dry eyes, and other symptoms that can erode quality of life and compromise vision.

But blue light isn’t all bad – it elevates feelings of alertness and wellbeing, and daytime exposure to blue light regulates the body’s circadian rhythm. In essence, some daily exposure to blue light is essential. However, persistent exposure to digital forms of blue light can be problematic in the long term. Here are a few things you can do to minimize the symptoms of blue light overexposure.

  • Minimize screen time. While many of us can’t reduce the amount of time we look at a computer screen if our work depends upon it, we can significantly reduce our amount of recreational screen time. Limit video games, social media time, and Netflix binge-watching if you experience symptoms of digital eye strain.
  • Attach screen filters. Screen filters can be attached to laptops, computer screens, and smartphones, and they can effectively lower the amount of blue light the retina absorbs.
  • Wear blue light blocking glasses. Blue light computer glasses offer protection when looking at smartphones or digital screens, and offer the added advantage of being portable.
  • Wear anti-reflective lenses. If you already require corrective eyewear, adding an anti-reflective coating can help not only reduce screen glare, but also reduce blue light from both natural sunlight and computer screens.

OptiExpress founder Dr. J. Michael Witherington is proud to be one of Ft. Myers’s leading optometrists, having practiced for more than 20 years. To book an eye exam at our Ft. Myers or Cape Coral location, please visit our contact page.