What is blue light and why are people worried about it?

The popularity of blue light glasses has surged recently due to claims they can protect your eyes from potential damage caused by looking at digital screens.

Although the sun is by far the largest emitter of blue light, people are beginning to speculate about the effects of the blue light emitted from our devices.

As a consequence of the pandemic, people are generally spending a lot more time on their digital devices. When movement was restricted, many people relied on their TVs, mobile phones, and computers for work and entertainment. Likewise, with the rise in remote working, people generally spent less time commuting, freeing up more time to spend online. This increased exposure to blue light, coupled with the proximity of blue screens to our eyes, has sparked recent concern.

A variety of different coloured light combines to produce the visible light we see every day. Blue light is one of those coloured lights. Because it has a very short wavelength, it can easily penetrate our eyes. Which is why it’s alleged that this continual exposure to blue light could cause us damage.

What do blue light glasses do?

Wearing blue light glasses essentially filters out any blue light, often giving the lenses an orange tinge. As such, they supposedly* reduce the following symptoms:

  • Eye strain
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Blurry vision
  • Dry eyes
  • Inability to focus
  • Disrupted sleeping pattern

These symptoms are based on the presumed effects that blue light has on our eyes. *Please note that these are not scientifically backed.

Do blue light glasses work?

Ultimately, there is very little research to support the theory that blue light exposure causes adverse effects on our health and none of the claims are scientifically backed.

In fact, whilst our digital screens do emit some blue light, research has found that the level of light emitted is significantly lower than natural daylight, which we’re exposed to every minute of the day. Furthermore, neither blue screens nor natural daylight come close to approaching the eye safety limits established by ophthalmologists. As such, the likelihood of digital blue light damaging our eyes is little to none.

The College of Optometrists states:

“The best scientific evidence currently available does not support the use of blue-blocking spectacle lenses in the general population to improve visual performance, alleviate the symptoms of eye fatigue or visual discomfort, improve sleep quality or conserve macula health.”

So, should I invest in blue light glasses?

From a scientific point of view, no due to the lack of evidence that blue light causes us damage.

However, if you are worrying about blue light or experiencing some of the symptoms described above, there are some easy and inexpensive tips you can try.

Turn off the blue light on your devices

A more cost-efficient approach to blocking blue screen light is to simply switch it off at the source. Most computers, laptops, and mobile phones will have an easy way to block blue light, saving you from investing in blue light glasses.

How do I block blue light on a Windows device?

To block blue light on a Windows device, navigate to:

1. Start
2. Settings
3. System

4. Display

5. Toggle night light to on and adjust the brightness as you wish

6. Click “Night light settings” to schedule when you want blue light to be blocked. If you schedule from 12:00 – 00:00 it will always be filtered out

To block blue light on an iPhone, navigate to:

1. Settings

2. Display & Brightness

3. Night shift – here you can schedule when you want the blue light to be filtered from your screen

You can also try…

  • Taking regular breaks from your devices. Remember the 20-20-20 rule; if you look at your screen continually for 20 minutes, you should then look away for 20 seconds at something 20 feet away.
  • Using eye drops. If you’re experiencing headaches and you believe it’s connected to looking at a screen, it might be because you’re blinking less, which therefore dries your eyes out and gives you a headache.
  • Limiting your screen time. If you find you’re spending a lot of time using your devices, try organising some activities that don’t involve the use of technology. For example, going on a walk, going to the gym, going out for lunch etc.

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