What is Blue Light?
When you hear the term blue light in conversation, people are likely talking about the blue light that can come from artificial lighting, like computers or phone screens. Before artificial lighting, our main source of light would be the sun, which also gives off natural blue light. Now, due to the integration of technology in our everyday lives, we are still receiving these blue light waves that illuminate our evenings.
While exposure to the sun will transmit far more blue light than a screen, there is concern surrounding artificial blue light exposure since we tend to use our devices in “close proximity” to our faces and the length of time we are exposed to these devices, according to Prevent Blindness.
This can disrupt your circadian rhythm and affect your sleep cycle. This is because natural blue light is meant to wake us up and stimulate us, according to the American Academy of Opthalmology. This is why Apple came out with the Night Shift mode on iPhones and other devices. This feature shifts the colors on your screen to a warmer, more yellow tint in order to reduce the amount of blue light users take in in the evenings.
Blue light also may lead to eye strain, especially after prolonged and continuous exposure.
How can I prevent the negative effects of blue light?
Using these built-in features like Night Mode that limit blue light is a good precaution to take, but blue light glasses have also recently seen a spike in popularity. While there isn’t much research done on the relatively new product, some users have said it helped them lessen the effects of digital eye strain.
If glasses aren’t your thing, some companies also sell blue light blocking screen protectors that claim to improve sleep and prevent negative blue light effects.
To reduce eye strain and the negative effects of blue light, users should lower the brightness of their screens in the evening whenever possible. It’s also recommended that users stay off screens 2-3 hours before bed. In addition, if you’re working on a screen for a long period of time, it’s important to allow your eyes to refocus by giving your eyes a break from screens every few hours.
Especially after the COVID-19 pandemic has millions working from home, it’s clear that people will have to be exposed to artificial blue light in one way or another. With people spending full workdays staring at screens, prolonged exposure is sometimes necessary for remote working and learning. While there aren’t many long-term studies on the effects of blue light from screens, it’s definitely smart taking preventative measures to protect your eyesight and natural sleep rhythm.