Is Blue Light Harmful to the Eyes?

The light we perceive appears colorless, but actually consists of a range of colors. Each color has a different wavelength. Blue light has short wavelength with a lot of energy. Sunlight is the main source of this, but blue light also comes from some light bulbs and electronic devices. Thanks to this light coming from the screen of devices such as phones and tablets, we can easily read these screens even in daylight. We cannot turn off this light completely. During the pandemic, continuous TV viewing time increased sharply, along with many people working and learning at home.

Does Blue Light Harm Your Eyes?

In large amounts, high-energy light (such as ultraviolet rays) from the sun can increase your risk of eye diseases. Blue light also has high energy. There are growing concerns about whether blue light, especially from digital screens, is harmful. We need more research to determine whether the amount of blue light we receive from our commonly used devices causes eye damage in humans. However, we know that the ganglion cells of the retinal layer of our eyes, which allow us to see, contain melanopsinphotopigment and are particularly sensitive to blue light. In general, light from electronic devices causes complaints such as fatigue in our eyes, a feeling of closing our eyes, mild headache, and dry eyes.

Does Blue Light Affect Your Health?

Our body has a clock that programs the functioning of its own bodily functions according to time, and this is called the body clock or circadian rhythm. Blue light from electronic devices can upset the balance of our body clock. When it’s bedtime, your body releases a chemical called melatonin. Melatonin prepares us for sleep. Blue light can slow down the release of melatonin. If you don’t have enough melatonin, you may have trouble getting a good night’s sleep. Poor sleep is linked to health problems such as high blood pressure, obesity, depression, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and even some types of cancer. Our brain perceives the strong light from electronic devices used before sleep, which mimics sunlight, as daylight, and under the illusion that it is not night yet. Since the melatonin release pattern is disrupted, we lose our sleep. It is known that those who use the phone before going to bed have difficulty falling asleep. Therefore, we should not use devices such as phones and tablets before sleeping.

Smartphones and Tablets

These emit more blue light than any other color. However, your device may have a “night” mode. It allows you to give your screen an orange tint with longer wavelength light. It can usually be set to start automatically every night. We don’t know exactly if switching to a less blue screen is enough to keep our sleep rhythm on track. This is because using these devices before sleep also stimulates our brain independently of light. It is better to minimize the time we use these devices in the evenings.

Laptops and Computer Monitors

These can only be considered large versions of your smartphone or tablet. This means they send out the same kind of light. It may be good to block the blue light from the computer during the day. Your laptop or desktop computer may have a night mode option just like your phone. If not, you can install a computer program or use filters to reduce the blue tint on your computer screen.

Fluorescent and LED Bulbs

They are economical as they use less electricity than traditional incandescent bulbs. But they emit more blue light. When purchasing compact fluorescent bulbs or LED lights for the home, it’s a good idea to choose a coated type to emit “warmer” light. You can choose to use a red bulb in your bedside lamp or night light. It is considered to be the most harmless color before sleep.

LED Televisions

Many flat screen televisions are LED-backlit. Some newer TVs may have a built-in blue light filter that you can turn on. Or you can buy a blue light filter that goes over the screen. You can also manually adjust the color and brightness of your TV.

Electronic Readers

Digital readers are useful. However, when used at night, it can easily make it difficult to sleep. It has been shown that those who use an “e-reader” in the hours before bedtime take longer to fall asleep than those who read from a printed book. Their sleep quality may also be affected, and they may feel unable to sleep the next morning. Some e-readers have a setting to reduce blue light. Otherwise, it would be appropriate to lower the overall light level of your device.

How to Reduce Blue Light

Today, glasses can be made with a blue filter. Scientific results about how beneficial such coatings are to reduce the effect of blue light are unknown. However, blue-blocking glasses can be given a chance. The anti-reflective coating on your regular glasses can also reduce blue light and glare. This can relieve eye strain. Blue light may not be harmful to the eyes when it comes from natural sources during the day. Therefore, there is no need to always make a pair of glasses with a blue filter. However, their close glasses may have a blue filter. For those who have not reached the age of close glasses, it is more reasonable to use them only when using electronic devices that emit blue light.

Wearing blue filter glasses, especially when using electronic devices in the evening, can be beneficial for sleeping on time. Therefore, if possible, use your glasses made with blue filters in the evenings. It is also thought that wearing blue filter glasses increases the next day’s work efficiency due to sleep quality. This beneficial effect is more pronounced in people who are accustomed to going to bed late at night. In other words, if your sleep is not regular, at least use blue filter glasses in the evening or use electronic devices with blue filters. These beneficial effects are immediate after use of blue filter glasses or devices. In other words, if you extend the screen time by saying I use blue filtration or if you continue to use the screen at night, it is not known whether the benefits of blocking blue light will continue.

Most importantly, try not to use electronic devices 1-2 hours before bedtime. In other words, it would not be right to use devices such as phones, tablets and computers without control just because I wear blue filter glasses. If you absolutely must use it, switch to night mode and avoid bright screens. It is thought that wearing amber glasses a few hours before bedtime can help with sleep. Even if you are wearing glasses with blue light filters or using the blue filters of the devices, you should try to reduce the screen time, take a break, stay away from the screen during the need for tea and coffee, try to blink frequently, look away from time to time or apply the 20-20-20 rule.

The Effect of Screens on Children

Children actually need some blue light from the sun, too. It is not harmful for them to see. However, it is thought that most of the blue light reflected from device screens such as phones, tablets, computers and televisions causes some problems. For example, blue light or spending too long with these devices itself has been shown to be associated with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), obesity, and myopia progression.

It is recommended that children be kept away from screens until they are 2 years old, unless there is video chat with loved family members. For older children, try to limit screen time to 1 hour a day. You should try to meet the needs of children such as games and entertainment and having a good time with activities other than electronic devices.

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