Our eyes are remarkable organs that allow us to connect with and view the outside world. They are exposed to large amounts of stimulation daily yet work efficiently to process this information without us thinking much about it. Unfortunately, digital screen time, lifestyle, and aging can slow down the eye’s efficiency and cause stress on the eyes. And one of the biggest offenders to eye health is what is known as blue light. In other words: It's time to ask questions about the real consequences of our constant technology use.
Visible light is defined by how long the wavelengths are and how much energy is produced. The longer the wavelength, the less energy is produced (safer), and the shorter the wavelength, the more energy is produced (potentially dangerous). Red light, like from a heating lamp, is an example of a long-wavelength, low-energy light. Blue light, from digital devices like computer screens, phones, and TVs has the shortest wavelengths and is therefore the highest energy. Blue light is damaging to the eyes because, unlike other UV rays that are blocked by the cornea and the lens, virtually all visible blue light passes through and goes straight to the light-sensitive retina, causing damage that can lead to degenerative conditions and vision loss.
While we are exposed to small, healthy amounts of blue light from sunlight during the day, excessive exposure happens when we spend exorbitant amounts of time in front of electronic devices at night, which emit significant amounts of blue light. Staring at a screen for long periods of time can cause eye fatigue and other symptoms such as eyestrain, dry eyes, headache, fatigue, blurred vision, and difficulty focusing and sleeping. A Harvard Medical School study found that blue light exposure at night suppressed melatonin production for about twice as long as green light and shifted circadian rhythms by twice as much.
But before you despair, you should know that there's a lot you can do to protect your eyes from stress and blue light. Here's where to start: