By Dr. Caitlin J. Morrison, OD, FAAO, FSLS | Doctor of Optometry | firstname.lastname@example.org
Blue light protection is a hot topic. Considering how much time people spend on their computers and phones, is there a benefit to wearing glasses that filter the light coming from these digital devices?
Blue light is short wavelength light that, when coming from the sun, has proven to cause damage to structures of the eye like the retina. For this reason, Doctors stress the importance of wearing sunglasses at all times when outside.
Blue light can also come from digital devices but is emitted at much lower levels than the sunlight. I updated myself on the most current research available and have compiled answers to some questions below:
Q: What does blue light from digital devices do to us?
Studies have proven that blue light from digital devices can disrupt sleep patterns. There is a smaller amount of data concluding that it can cause eye strain.
The light from digital devices tricks our melatonin-releasing system into thinking that it’s light out and that we need to stay awake. After exposure to light from digital devices in the evening, people have a harder time falling asleep.
Eye strain after using digital devices comes from a number of things. One paper relates eye strain specifically to blue light because these short wavelengths of light focus in front of the retina instead of directly on the back of the retina, causing us to focus harder to see. This prolonged focusing leads to strain and discomfort.
Q: Does blue light damage the structures of your eye?
Yes, but only if it comes from the sun. There is no substantiated data that proves the small amounts of blue light from digital devices causes any physical damage to your eyes, even after extended exposure.
Q. Does it matter what percentage of blue light my lenses filter?
Maybe. With one study, small groups of people found less eye strain while wearing screen protecting glasses that blocked a high percentage of blue light versus a lower percentage of blue light. For this reason, a stronger screen protector like Blue Zero™ (98% of blue light blocked) may be preferred over lenses that filter a smaller percentage.
Dr. Morrison’s Tips To Reduce Eye Strain While Using Digital Devices:
1. Obtain an updated glasses and contact lens prescription. Squinting due to incorrect prescription is a large component of digital eye strain.
2. Keep artificial tears near the computer to help treat dry eye. We blink less when we are at the computer or reading. Dryness results in blurry and fluctuating vision, especially when wearing contact lenses.
3. Ask for an anti-glare coating on your glasses. Glare is another cause of squinting, which causes eye fatigue.
4. Use the 20-20-20 rule. To relax the focusing system, every 20 minutes, look for 20 seconds at something 20 feet away.
5. Consider a high-percentage screen protector with your prescription glasses. If you wear contact lenses, consider a simple pair with no prescription and screen protection to wear while doing computer work.