Does blue light cause eye strain? It is an important question asked by many people. Before answering this question, you need to know that blue light is all around you like other visible light. For instance, the sun, incandescent light bulbs, fluorescent bulbs, LEDs, TVs, cell phones, tablets, computers, laptops, and other devices emit blue light.
Blue light boosts your cognitive function, improves your memory, and enhances alertness. However, it can affect your eye’s health and cause eye strain. In today’s article, I will delve into this critical topic. Read on!
How does blue light affect eye health?
The human eye has sophisticated structures that protect against a broad spectrum of visible and invisible light. The retina is a light-sensitive part of your eye and prone to damages from ultraviolet rays. That’s why the lens and cornea protect the retina from UV rays, but these structures do not protect the retina from blue light.
Exposure to blue light from digital screens and devices, such as computers, laptops, cell phones, tablets, TVs, etc., can damage your retina if you use them at a close range. A recent research study shows that about 32.4% of people used devices that emitted blue light during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Likewise, about 15.5% of people used blue-light emitting devices for 12 to 14 hours per day. Bear in mind that this is a considerable increase in screen time due to lockdowns that changed people’s ways of working.
Another study shows that blue light can damage retinal cells and cause other conditions, including eye strain. One study published on NCBI states that women who use LED face masks to enhance their skin health experience distorted vision. Researchers conclude that LED face masks can also cause retinal lesions.
Macular degeneration is the leading cause of weakened eyesight or blindness, especially in people above the age of 50. The condition is characterized by damaged macula, an essential structure in the back of your eye. Macular degeneration prevents you from focusing on the center of your field of vision.
Although you can see objects on the periphery, you may not see the center of your field of vision. When you have macular degeneration, you won’t see the details of things, and objects will appear blurry.
A 2018 research study concludes that blue light may or may not lead to macular degeneration because it depends on various factors, such as age, eye health, and related conditions.
Can blue light add to eye strain?
We live in the digital era, meaning everyone uses devices, such as computers, laptops, and cell phones, which can cause digital eye strain. A 2019 research study published on PubMed shows that people who use digital devices for a prolonged period can experience severe eye strain, leading to conditions like headaches, blurry vision, double vision, and migraines.
Digital eye strain affects different people differently. For instance, some people experience dry, sore, and irritated eyes, while others experience severe headaches, eye fatigue, disrupted sleep, facial muscles fatigue, and permanent vision loss.
Although there is a need for more research on the long-term effects of blue lights on eyes, some studies show that blue light emitted from digital devices can disrupt your sleep-wake cycle. Your eye and skin contain light sensors that can differentiate between blue light and bright light waves.
According to the Vision Council, about 87% of people in the U.S use one or more digital devices and gadgets for over two hours a day. Researchers found that 76.5% of children in the U.S look at digital screens for at least two hours a day, causing them to experience severe eyestrain and other eye conditions.
When people engage with blue light-emitting digital devices for a long time, they expose themselves to harmful wavelengths, leading to retinal problems, macular degeneration, disrupted sleep, and even cataracts. However, blue light protection glasses can reduce exposure to these harmful wavelengths.
Reduced Melatonin Production
Using digital screens and devices can affect the light sensors in your eyes and skin, leading to decreased production of melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep. A 2014 research study published on PNAS concludes that exposure to blue light in the evening can severely affect melatonin production, disrupting sleep cycles due to disturbed circadian rhythm in the brain.
A 2014 research study shows that reduced or disrupted melatonin production can cause a wide range of health conditions, such as stress, depression, mood disorders, dementia, Type-2 diabetes, severe pain, and even cancer. Melatonin dysfunction also disturbs different aspects of circadian rhythm, including amplitudes, phasing, and coupling.
Another study shows that blue light can cause insomnia due to disrupted sleep cycles. A 2018 research study concludes that blue light emitted from digital devices can eye strain and increase the risk of hormone-related cancers, such as prostate and breast cancer. According to MOFFITT Cancer Center, exposure to blue light increases prostate cancer risk in men and breast cancer in women by 50%.
Lower Leptin Levels
Blue light can also lower leptin levels, leading to delayed or disrupted metabolic processes. Bear in mind that changes to metabolic processes can increase blood glucose levels and cause diabetes.
A recent clinical study shows that blue-light glasses that protect against harmful waves can cope with increased plasma glucose levels and insulin resistance. It also improves sleep quality, enhances metabolism, and maintains circadian rhythms by optimizing leptin levels.
Digital eye strain, also known as computer vision syndrome, can cause a wide range of vision-related problems and other health conditions. That’s why it is crucial to reduce your screen time, particularly in the evening and night. That way, you can protect your eyes from experiencing discomfort, vision problems and improve your sleep cycle.
Researchers recommend blue-light-blocking glasses to reduce eye strain. Not only do blue light glasses increase contrast on your digital screen, but it also allows you to increase your focus and reduce eye strain.