Blue Light - What It Is and How to Protect Yourself

If you are the type of person who is either a) constantly on your phone, b) using a tablet all day long, or c) behind a computer screen at work for lengthy hours, you’ve probably noticed some negative symptoms here and there. Perhaps it is a headache at the end of the day, pain in and around the eyes from eye strain, or trouble sleeping at night; all of which are due to the emission of blue light.  This blue light comes from most electronics, including our phones, computers, tablets, televisions, and digital screens. Read on to find out what blue light is and how you can protect yourself from it!

What Is Blue Light & Why Should I Be Concerned?

The electromagnetic spectrum is made up of various wavelengths of light, some of which we cannot see and others which we can.  Every wavelength in the spectrum is represented by a different color and is grouped into the following categories, ultraviolet rays (UV), infrared light, radio waves, x-rays. Gamma rays, and visible light.

The visible light is what we can see and it is made up of green, yellow, orange, red, violet, indigo, and blue.  The shorter the wavelength, the greater the amount of energy that is produced and released. Blue light is the highest energy color that we can see on the spectrum, but it has a very short wavelength.  This means that it produces greater energy emissions, allowing it to penetrate the lens of our retina and or corneas.  Long exposure or lots of exposure to blue light can have the following 5 harmful effects on the human body.

  • It can disrupt circadian rhythm which is the internal process that regulates your sleep-wake cycle.
  • It causes eye strain which can include dry or irritated eyes, headaches, neck and back pain, as well as, blurry vision.
  • It increases the risk of certain cancers like breast and prostate cancer.
  • It can increase your risk of heart disease, obesity, depression, and diabetes.
  • May cause permanent eye damage as it can contribute to age-related macular degeneration (vision loss).

It is important to note that not all blue light is bad, as sunlight which is the biggest source of blue light, actually does have benefits. It helps regulate our sleep-wake cycle, it boosts alertness, it helps memory and cognitive functions, and it can elevate moods. Regardless, it is critical to take precautions when viewing blue light as exposure can have negative consequences.

3 Ways to Protect Yourself From Blue Light

If you are looking for a few ways to help dim or block blue light out of your life, here are 3 easy to use methods plus a bonus rule of thumb to follow.

  1. Use Applications on Desktop or Mobile Devices. If you are a heavy computer user, you can use Night Light or Flux to help decrease the amount of blue light that is released from your screen. Now this doesn’t completely get rid of the blue light - simply dims it - it still helps. 

If you are using a mobile device a lot, you can use applications like Twilight, or Night Shift. IOS devices also have a built-in Night Shift option that you can set to turn on for a specific time of day.

  1. Use HEV-Filtering Glasses. If you don’t want to just dim all types of light on your computer screen or mobile device, consider purchasing blue light blocking glasses. You can get them in all kinds of colors and frame sizes. For instance, the ones from Mila Wholesale are unisex, come in blue, grey, red, or black, and have spring hinges with stopper ends for a snug fit.
  1. Buy Filter Covers That Block Blue Light. If you already wear glasses or contact lenses and don’t want to purchase prescription blue light blocking glasses from your optometrist, then consider getting filter covers that block the blue light. These fit a large range of devices and offer a degree of protection.

Finally, use the 20-20-20 rule when focusing on text that is a foot or two away from you.  For every 20-minutes that you spend looking at text that is a foot or two away from you, take 20-seconds to look at a specific object that is 20-feet away from you. This resets your focus and gives your eyes a break.