Blue light has recently come under heavy scrutiny, particularly now as so many Americans are working from home and conducting countless Zoom meetings each week. There's a lot of talk about blue light "poisoning" and its impact on health and wellness. But what's the truth about the effects blue light has on us?
Especially in a world where increasing numbers of people are working from home, educating their children using remote technology, and staying plugged-in to world news around the clock, we encounter blue light now more than ever before.
Many sources say that blue light emitted from electronic devices is to blame for a myriad of negative effects on peoples' health and wellness. Other sources have completely refuted these claims.
Blue light from our phones does affect your health and wellness, but not as much as many reports would have you believe.
What is Blue Light?
Before we begin to discuss the affect blue light has on our eyes, let's take a step back and take a look at what blue light actually is.
According to an article in Popular Science, humans can see a fraction of the entire spectrum of light. Shorter wavelengths of light look blue to us, but longer wavelengths look red.
The article explains that light from our electronic screens may appear to be white, but this light really includes almost every color of the spectrum.
So if all different colors of light are hitting are eyes at all times, what is it that makes blue light special?
Blue light is a shorter wavelength, so it produces higher amounts of energy than other colors of light on the spectrum.
The higher amount of energy that blue light produces makes it attractive to scientists who wish to know how the specific wavelength of light affects our health, including researchers at The American Academy of Ophthalmology, The University of Toledo, and the Universidad Complutense in Madrid, Spain.
Now that we know what blue light is and what separates it from other wavelengths on the color spectrum, the question is how does blue light affects us?
Blue Light Poisoning from Phones
Some experts claim that blue light in particular is tied to eye health problems ranging from dry eyes to macular degeneration. Many have already taken preventative measures to defend themselves against the apparent dangers of blue light.
According to ophthalmologist Dr. Mark Fromer as quoted in an article from Forbes, “Blue light appears to damage retinal cells."
Fromer admitted, "It is still unclear how much blue light, and for how long, is necessary to damage these sight-seeing cells—we do know the damage is irreversible."
However, in an article for The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), Dr. Khurana says taking preventive measures against blue light could be more harmful than the blue light itself.
Although some studies indicate that blue light may damage our eyes, evidence suggests that blue light specifically from our phones and other devices are not having a serious impact on our vision.
What to Protect Yourself From
It may be going too far to say that blue light from our phones is poisoning us. There are some affects that blue light has on our bodies, however.
Blue light energizes you, so many sleep professionals recommend that you limit your screen time 1 to 3 hours before bedtime.
According to an article by Anne-Marie Chang, Daniel Aeschbach, Jeanne F. Duffy, and Charles A. Czeisler, 90% of Americans use electronics at least a few nights per week within one hour before bedtime. Evidence from studies around the world illustrates the negative impact technology use has on sleep.
If sleep is a primary area you are working on with the 5 pillars of your personal health maintenance plan, then this may be an area for you to take action.
Beyond the impact blue light from our electronic devices have on our sleep schedule, there's no scientific evidence that blue light from our phones has any other effects on the body.
Tips to Promote Eye Health and Wellness
While blue light might not be any cause for concern for frequent users, digital screens can have other negative affects on our eyes.
Blue light from our phone is apparently not as serious of a problem as some sources would have you believe. However, the AAO says staring at digital screens for long periods of time "can cause eye strain, and decreased blinking associated with computer use can cause dry eyes.”
To prevent these symptoms and reduce strain on your eyes, the AAO suggested the 20-20-20 rule. According to the rule, you should take a break from electronic screens every 20 minutes to focus on something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
Using eye drops is also a quick, simple, and inexpensive way to refresh dry eyes.
What’s your take on the effects of blue light? Do you feel like you have experienced any effects of blue light poisoning? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!