In today’s increasingly technological society, most people spend a considerable amount of time using digital devices like computers, tablets and smartphones; and additionally, artificial lighting like desk lamps. These electronic devices and artificial lighting emit various degrees of blue light, which may have a negative impact, not only on your vision but also your overall health.
Children are especially at risk when it comes to the negative effects of blue light exposure. The difference for children is that their eyes are still developing and they do not yet have the protective pigments in their eyes to help filter out some of this harmful blue light. Also, people who have Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) or other low vision conditions are at risk because their eyes are extremely sensitive and weak.
Continuously staring at a screen over many hours can have an impact on your eyes in two major ways as follows:
Firstly, the most common side effect is digital eye strain. When we look at a screen, our blink rate drops significantly causing our eyes to become very dry. If you have ever experienced slightly blurry vision or headaches after staring at the computer all day, that was a sign of digital eye strain.
Secondly, a more serious impact is the damage from blue light exposure on our eyes. Blue light is harmful because it has the highest photon energy of the colour wavelengths in the visible light spectrum. This energy is also able to penetrate all the way to the back of the eye through the eyes’ natural filters and that is the problem.
Additionally, the regular use of a desk lamp in close proximity to your eyes, particularly with LED technology, can facilitate blue light exposure over periods of time and eye strain. Studies found that we blink far more often under relaxed conditions than while reading: 22 blinks per minute while relaxed, versus 10 blinks per minute while reading a book.
Many researchers feel blue light may cause long-term damage to our eyes. Certainly, more medical research needs to be done to redefine and confirm retinal damage from violet/blue light, based on exposure intensity and duration, for all groups including children and low vision people. This of course is very difficult because these effects can only be measured over a long period of time and it is impossible to test human eyes, only animals are tested, therefore the study of blue light is in its infancy. In the meantime, we live in a world that is saturated with screens of all kinds and artificial lighting which results in exposure to more violet/blue light than ever. This topic deserves our attention and increased understanding.
In fact, there is no question that violet/blue light can cause damage to the eyes, depending on sufficient intensity and duration. The burning question is, what minimum thresholds are required to cause photochemical damage to the visual system, particularly for children and the visually impaired. Hence, the biggest issue is the amount of violet/blue light exposure that we get each day through digital device use or artificial lighting. With this exposure increasing over time, we are actually causing permanent damage to our eyes but unlike digital eye strain, the effects of violet/blue light are cumulative and can lead to eye diseases like macular degeneration.
The main problem with current international legislation is that the measurements and standards do not fully take into account certain groups like children and low vision people. For example, low vision people use electrical devices and artificial desk lighting very close to their eyes on a daily basis.
Did you know blue light is one of the top growing concerns of eye doctors according to VSP Vision Care (http://vspblog.com/blue-light-study/). They surveyed a sample of their 30,000 eye doctors who reported an alarming concern about the potential hazards of blue light.