After finishing each of my eye exams, I always review the results and ask the patient if they have any questions. Quite often, their questions focus on the effects of blue light, and whether it can harm their eyes. Today, we are here to answer the most common questions surrounding blue light and blue light filters.
What is Blue Light?
Blue light is one of many wavelengths that make up sunlight. Within that spectrum, red light is on the weaker end, and on the other side is blue light which has the strongest energy. While short in wavelength, it produces higher amounts of energy.
At one time, the sun was the only producer of blue light. Today, technology such as TVs, smartphones, computers, tablets, gaming systems, LED lights, and other devices with digital screens produce it. As a result, we humans expose ourselves to blue light every day for copious amounts of time.
Why Is Blue Light Damaging to Eyes?
Blue wavelengths are short, however, they contain a lot of energy. As a result, it flickers longer than any other type of weaker wavelength, making it both dangerous and beneficial. Let me explain.
The front structures of the eye - which includes the cornea and lens - have no built-in protection against blue light. The light easily passes through those structures, all the way to the retina at the back of the eye, which is where the macula resides. The macula is responsible for the central part of your vision.
Since the human eye cannot filter blue light, it can damage the photocells (light-sensitive cells) in the retina and may cause macular degeneration.
On the other hand, blue waves are sometimes beneficial. Research has shown that it is essential for boosting alertness, memory function, and cognitive behavior. Not to mention, it can help you get a better night’s rest by stimulating melatonin production in the pineal gland. But once again, like anything, moderation is key.
Blue Light and Computer Use
Prolonged exposure to blue light can cause blurred vision, eye strain, burning, and tearing. After staring into computer screens, tablets, and smartphones for too long, the eyes dry out. This causes excessive straining of the focusing muscles of the eyes.
The reason why it’s of great concern these days is that all of your digital devices – including your laptops, computer screens, tablets, and smartphones - all emit blue light. We spend the better part of our day in front of one of these devices and so, we are constantly exposing ourselves to it.
More research is needed to see how much blue light we can safely be exposed to. But, eye doctors are still concerned, and most of us recommend being on the cautious side, as we know there is potential for permanent damage to certain structures of the eye.
Blue Light and Sleep Cycles
Blue light also affects your natural wake and sleep cycles. In the morning, blue light helps to wake us up and keeps us awake throughout the day.
However, if your habit is to look at your digital device late at night, blue light may be sending signals to your brain that it’s time to wake up, not time to go to sleep. Therefore, it can be hard to get to sleep.
Because of this, it is recommended that you discontinue looking at any screens for a couple of hours before bedtime so that you will sleep more soundly and comfortably.
What can I do to help with Blue Light?
If you are a power user of digital devices, it is totally worth it to get a blue light filter for your favorite eyewear.
Whether it’s your reading glasses or computer progressives, a blue light filter will shield your eyes from harmful blue light and contribute to protecting the health of your eyes.
For extra protection, you can get an anti-reflective coating, too. It will not only protect your eyes with the blue blocking filter, but also make your focusing a little bit easier because the anti-reflective coating will decrease eye strain, eliminate glare, and improve your night vision.
Do Blue Light Glasses Work?
In this digital age, it makes sense to safeguard yourself by getting a blue light and anti-reflective coating on your eyewear.
That said, right now, we don’t know what the full implications are when it comes to the damaging effects of blue light. Not everyone will get macular degeneration, but more people will experience eye strain, blurred vision, and redness. For this reason, it’s best to grab a pair of blue blockers.
Best Blue Light Glasses
There are many types of blue-blocking glasses available on the market today, however, not all blue blockers are the same. If you are a reader, you will want blue wave filtering reading glasses. Here are a few of our favorite brands:
Our collection of Seattle Eyeworks blue light reading glasses was inspired by the innovative nature that uniquely characterizes the city. Seattle is known for its exceptional coffee, lucrative commerce, and eclectic style.