Technology is giving us more of a good thing than our eyes can handle, resulting in a serious risk to our eyesight.
Computer screens, smart phones, televisions and similar devices provide significant exposure to blue light. This high-energy visible light is found within the 380- to 500-nanometer range of the light spectrum (100 to 700 nanometers). In normal doses, blue light can be beneficial, boosting alertness, energy and more. In fact, controlled exposure to blue light is a common therapeutic treatment for seasonal affective disorder, a depressive condition more commonly known as the “winter blues” brought on by overcast days and long nights.
Persistent exposure to blue light, however, can be problematic, resulting in eye strain and potential macular degeneration.
Blue light is almost everywhere. The sun emits blue light, and for that reason, the sky above us is blue. The amounts emitted by the sun are not as excessive as the ones from our electronic devices. The excess blue light emission is not normal, which can eventually result in retinal damage, sleep disruption and irregular circadian rhythm.
Several methods can be used to eliminate eye strain, but some doctors are beginning to recommend use of blue light glasses. These glasses are widely available. You can find them at a local optometrist’s shop or on Amazon.
There is no study that says who should and shouldn’t use blue light glasses, said Dr. Christopher M Wright, an optometrist and owner of Valley Vision Care Center in El Centro. He recommends that anyone who already uses glasses should consider adding the blue light coating.
“Theoretically anyone who is suffering from eye strain while using electronic devices would be advised to wear blue light glasses. We may get to the point that we recommend nearly all users should be wearing some sort of protection,” he said.
Blue light glasses are available with and without a prescription, but Wright recommends getting a checkup before investing in them to make sure they would be beneficial for you.
Although the glasses are believed to help protect eyes from prolonged use of electronic devices, one thing to keep in mind is that blue light emission is not the only factor that causes eye strain. Proximity to your screen can cause eye crossing, which leads to eye strain and headaches. Static focus can cause accommodative spasms (focusing strain). This causes blurred vision, strain and discomfort.
There is no difference between the blue light glasses you buy at a doctor’s office and online, but like anything, you typically get what you pay for.
Blue light glasses will not solve all eye-strain problems. While they do cut down on blue light, they do not block all of the light that gets to your retina. Closing your eyes, taking breaks, turning off your device, not using it before sleep could help you reduce eye strain and limit future degeneration.