Device screens and eye health

Protecting your eyes from device screens

You might have heard about the dangers of the blue light that comes from our device screens. But, what does blue light from phone, tablet and computer screens really mean for our eye health? And, how can we minimise the damage?

What is blue light?

Blue light is a part of the visible light spectrum, which is part of the larger electromagnetic spectrum. What we call ‘blue light’ is actually a very small section of the spectrum, which is right next to ultraviolet light.

Electromagnetic Spectrum

Like ultraviolet light, blue light can have a powerful effect on our bodies. This is because it has the shortest wavelengths on the visible spectrum which means it produces a high amount of energy.

Where does blue light come from?

Blue light occurs naturally, in the sun’s rays. Therefore, articles about blue light being ‘dangerous’ can be misleading. The natural levels of blue light found in the sun are completely safe.

However, in modern society, there are far more and far stronger sources of blue light than human eyes are used to. All device screens emit blue light, this includes, phones, tablets, computers and televisions. Blue light is also found in the light from artificial light sources such as LED lights and fluorescent lights.

How does blue light affect your eye health?

Blue light is known to flicker more than other colours due to its extra high energy wavelength. This flickering causes eyestrain, which causes pain and dryness in the eyes. Eyestrain often turns into headaches and feelings of fatigue.

There is also evidence that blue light exposure may increase the risk of macular degeneration. The human eye shape is not very good at blocking blue light from penetrating the eye. This means that large amounts of blue light can damage light-sensitive cells in the retina, which could lead to vision loss.

How to protect your eyes from blue light

There are a few ways you can protect your eyes from excess blue light:

  • Use ‘night mode’ or the equivalent on your phone or computer. This changes the tone of your screen to use more orange and red colours. It is mainly used to prevent blue light exposure at night from disrupting your circadian rhythm. If your computer does not have this option, try the free software – f.lux
  • Turn down the brightness on your device, especially at night. Research has shown that dimming your screen is more effective at preventing eye strain and headaches than just using the ‘night mode’ to curb the blue in your screen. Using both together is best.
  • Try blue light blocking glasses to protect your eyes when using the computer. These glasses have orange or red toned lenses to block the blue light from reaching your eye. Some brands of blue blocking glasses offer prescription lens options.
  • Where possible, use soft warm lighting in your home. Choose globes that have a warm rather than white light, and avoid using fluorescent lights if possible.
  • Take regular breaks from your computer screen, if you work in front of a computer. Go outside, if possible, and look into the distance. Don’t spend this time on your mobile phone. If your office has harsh fluorescent lighting these short breaks are especially important.