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Blue Light and Your Eyes

Blue Light and Your Eyes

Are your eyes tired at the end of the day? Are you having trouble sleeping at night? These may be signs of Blue Light exposure. We all know the affects of UV light and how to protect ourselves from it with things like sunscreen and sunglasses. Blue Light can also have affects on our bodies.

Chart of UV and Blue Light

What is blue light?

Blue light is part of the visible light spectrum. Without getting into complicated physics, there is an inverse relationship between the wavelength of light rays and the amount of energy they contain. Light rays that have relatively long wavelengths contain less energy, and those with short wavelengths have more energy. Blue light has a very short wavelength, and so produces a higher amount of energy.

Where is blue light found?

Sunlight is the main source of blue light, and being outdoors during daylight is where most of us get most of our exposure to it. But there are also many man-made, indoor sources of blue light, including fluorescent and LED lighting and flat-screen televisions.

Most notably, the display screens of computers, electronic notebooks, smartphones and other digital devices emit significant amounts of blue light.

How can blue light affect our eyes?

Given the eye is not very good at blocking blue light, the amount of time people spend using these devices and the proximity of these screens to the user's face, many eye doctors and other health care professionals are concerned about possible long-term effects of blue light on eye health. Blue light reaches deeper into the eye and its cumulative effect can cause damage to the retina. Furthermore, in certain wavelengths, blue light is implicated in the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).  

How can blue light affect the body?

Blue light is very important in regulating circadian rhythm — the body's natural wakefulness and sleep cycle. Exposure to blue light during daytime hours helps maintain a healthful circadian rhythm. But too much blue light late at night (ie: browsing social media on your phone or reading a on a tablet or e-reader at bedtime) can disrupt this cycle, potentially causing sleepless nights and daytime fatigue.

How do we protect ourselves from exposure and affects?

Routine eye examinations are recommended for all ages to look for AMD and determine whether nutritional supplements are needed.  Sunglasses are recommended to protect against both the UV invisible light as well as the blue light spectrum. Blue light protection may be even more important after cataract surgery. Ask your eye doctor at your next appointment or stop in our optical shop today to find out which type of vision correction and lens features best suit your needs for viewing your computer and other digital devices and protecting your eyes from blue light.

Hillary Dolan, OD is an optometrist who specializes comprehensive optometry, specialty and medically necessary fitting of contact lenses and diagnosis and treatment of dry eye. Dr. Dolan sees patients in our Cary and North Durham Offices. Call 919-595-2000 to schedule an appointment today.

By Hillary Dolan, OD