The Dangers of Blue Light

It’s no secret that most of us we are in front of our screens throughout the day.  Whether it’s our phones first thing in the morning (guilty!), laptops and computers at work, tablets for play and then TV to relax, we are inundated by screens!

And while there are a lot of positives with our amazing technology, there are also dangers. Exposure to blue light is a serious danger that we are all are facing. (Literally.)

So, What Exactly is Blue Light?

Simply put, blue light is part of the visible light spectrum. It is something that naturally comes from the sun, as well as from artificial light sources like fluorescent light and digital screens.  It is the highest energy wavelength which penetrates deep into to the back of the eye.   It’s function is to help regulate our internal clock, namely our sleep/wake cycle and plays a role in our brain’s functions such as memory, alertness and cognition.  Blue light is not new.  But what is new, is the extreme increase in our exposure to this light.

Why Is This a Problem?

Well, for starters, increased exposure can tire our eyes resulting in digital strain.  The can manifest as dry eyes, runny eyes, blurry vision, tired eyes, headaches and even brain strain.

Blue light also disturbs your sleep patterns.  Have you ever noticed that you go to bed tired, decide to check Facebook just one more time  or read that article that you marked earlier in the day, catch up on the news, or watch something on Netflix, only to find that when you turn off your screen, you are now wide awake?  Well that is because the light from your screen suppresses the natural production of melatonin in your brain which cues your brain to wake up!

As if that weren’t bad enough, studies are now coming out that show that increased exposure to blue light can be the cause of certain eye conditions and is now believed to increase the risk of age-related macular degeneration (the leading cause of blindness in adults over 50.)

What Can You Do?

The good news is there are several steps you can take to minimize your exposure.

  1. Reduce Screen Time. The obvious answer is to power down your screens and reduce your overall time looking at screens.  For most of us, this is difficult, but worthy of inspecting where and when we can power down.   We can certainly however take breaks during the day and give our eyes a rest.  (Check out the 20/20/20 eye exercise below!)
  2. Wear Protective Glasses.  There is now eyewear out there that have a blue light filter built into them.  Talk to your eye doctor about your options!
  3. Install a Screen Filter.  For your computer, check out f.lux.com to download a filter that helps to reduce the blue light eminating from your screen.   On your phones and tablets there is a built in feature called Night Shift that filters out the blue light.  You can also search for apps that filter out blue light.
  4. No Screens Before Bedtime.  Last but not least, get into the habit of putting away all screens about an hour before going to bed.  You will find yourself falling asleep more easily and getting a better night’s sleep.

20 – 20 – 20 Rule

Here’s a short video with the 20 – 20 – 20 exercises to help reduce eye fatigue.  It’s simple.  Every 20 minutes, focus on something (other than your screen) that is at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds.  Here how:

Now it’s your turn.  We’d love to hear from you and let us know if which of these suggestions help the most!

Until the next time!

Vivienne & Andrew

PBE Co-Founders

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