Blue Light Blues: Your Vision May Be At Risk

Blue Light Blues: Your Vision May Be At Risk

It may be difficult to imagine life without digital devices. From computers to cell phones and every conceivable lit up screen in-between, this technology continues to ramp up everyday life at breakneck speeds, literally.

Our digital society, sometimes referred to as the “heads down tribe,” spends a huge chunk of its time, nose-to-device. As a result, neck and back problems are becoming more commonplace among people below thirty. However, adverse effects from constantly using digital devices are beginning to manifest beyond the obvious.

One recent concern is how the eyes are reacting to the continued exposure of blue light coming from computer and cellphone screens. It turns out that just looking at your screen may be one of the most dangerous things you are doing to your vision…without even knowing it.

Accumulated Damage

Now that electronic devices have been forced into our society at every turn, some are warning against serious vision issues that could occur.

Licensed dispensing optician, Amy Stowers, at the University of Georgia’s Health Center Vision Clinic comments on the fast digital infiltration on our health,

“It’s kind of a newer problem because computers and laptops and cellphones and all that, haven’t been around for 100 years, so it’s just getting to the point where people are beginning to have some issues,…We’re having a lot more students that have eye fatigue, eye strain,…They’re on the computer a lot during the day, they’re on their cell phones all day long.”

Soaking Into the Retina

Constantly being exposed to the bright blue light emitting from your electronic device could accumulate over time and have an adverse affect on your macula. The macula sits in the back of the retina and is an essential tool for healthy vision. It senses light cells and sends data to the brain where images are formed.

When the macula is compromised, macular degeneration could result. Symptoms of this disease include:

  • Straight lines start to appear distorted
  • Center of vision becomes distorted
  • Dark, blurry areas or white appears in the center of vision
  • Very rarely diminished or changed color perception

Because blue light is one notch below the ever dangerous UV (ultraviolet) light, it should not be taken lightly. As blue light continually bombards the macula, oxidation can develop which over time creates waste particle buildup. Eventually this waste deters macula operation reducing healthy vision and potentially causing blindness.

Protect Yourself

According to The American Macular Degeneration Foundation,

“Recent studies suggest that the blue end of the light spectrum may also contribute to retinal damage and possibly lead to AMD [age related macular degeneration]. The retina can be harmed by high-energy visible radiation of blue/violet light that penetrates the macular pigment found in the eye. According to a study by The Schepens Eye Institute, a low density of macular pigment may represent a risk factor for AMD by permitting greater blue light damage.”

Here are some ways you can protect yourself from this slow building threat to your vision.

  • See your ophthalmologist for blue light filtering protective eyewear
  • Hold devices away from your face (studies show that blue light dissipates after about 5 feet)
  • Take breaks from your screen at least once per hour
  • Change overhead lights to LED bulbs as these emit the least blue light
  • Take preventative and strengthening supplements – A study by researchers at the Division of Epidemiology and Clinical Research, National Eye Institute/National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, recommends vitamins C, E, zinc, copper, lutein and zeaxanthin.

The studies that are warning against blue light exposure are preliminary. More testing needs to be done. However, if you consider the amount of time you spend in front of a screen to be high, you may want to start some preventative habits now before it’s too late.