Constantly staring at the smartphone or the laptop, juggling more than one digital screen everyday is the new norm as most of our millennials today are multitasking all the time. Over the past few years, digital consumption has increased drastically with the daily usage of smartphones, tablets, and laptops to a minimum of 4-5 hours per day. Add to this some TV viewing as well, about 4-5 hours. In total, about 8-10 hours in blue light is what is affecting today's generation's eyes. Let us find out more.
What is Blue Light?
We have always heard that we must protect our eyes from the sun’s UV rays but did you know that blue light from digital screens can affect the eye in a very similar manner? Blue light is short high energy visible wavelengths in a colour from the visible light spectrum (that which is visible to humans)
Sources of Blue Light:
- Digital screens
- Electronic devices such as TV, computer, smart phones, tablets and even e-readers such as the Kindle
Why is blue light dangerous?
The rate of flickering is more than when compared to other visible light. It creates a glare that can reduce visual contrast, affect clarity and sharpness. It also causes digital eyestrain, headache, physical as well as mental fatigue. It is estimated that by the year 2020, about 90% of all our light sources will contain LED light.
What damage can blue light cause?
Computer Vision Syndrome – Vision related problems that comes from increased and extended use of computers, tablets, smartphones as well as TV.
Symptoms include - Blurred vision, sensitive to light, difficulty in focusing, headache/migraine, burning or stinging sensation in eyes
Dry eye - This is a chronic condition that is aggravated by blue light wherein the sufferer’s eyes do not produce enough tears to lubricate the eyes.
Symptoms include - Irritated, scratchy, gritty or burning sensation in eyes, blurred vision, excess watering
What can prolonged exposure lead to?
UV light affects front of the eye causing cataract while blue light causes damage to back of the eye and can lead to macular degeneration. So it starts with retinal damage and and ultimately vision loss. Whatever your age, limiting your exposure to blue light can help you have more years of healthy vision.
Digital screens are affecting children too! Limit their screen time!
In this e-age, an increasing number of kids are having access to smartphones and tablets and ultimately they are spending more time with these devices for recreational purposes.
What can you start NOW to protect your eyes?
- 20-20 rule: for every 20 minutes of screen time, focus on something about 20 ft away for 20 seconds
- Reduce additional light sources – indoor light should be about 50% as bright as light found in offices.
- Avoid sitting in direct sunlight when using digital screens
- Vitamins – Omega 3 or fish oil supplements have been clinically proven to improve eye health
- Take a break – move away from indoor light and walk outside as often as possible especially if you are using digital screens with artificial light indoors
- Blink! – Staring continuously at blue light can contribute to dry eyes so do not forget to blink often
- Blue light blocker – You can change the colour temperature of your devices to help reduce digital eye strain and dry eye
If condition persists, visit an eye specialist to get an expert opinion. Save your eyes, they help you see how beautiful this world is.
Make an appointment with an Ophthalmologist using GetDoc in Malaysia as well as Singapore.
by Hridya Anand
A biochemist by education who could never put what she studied to good use, finally found GetDoc as a medium to do what she loved - bring information to people using a forum that is dedicated to all things medical. View all articles by Hridya Anand.