What is blue light?
Blue light is a colour in the ‘visible light spectrum’ that can be seen by the human eye. Sources of blue light include the sun, digital screens (TVs, computers, laptops, smart phones and tablets), electronic devices, and fluorescent and LED lighting. Blue light waves are among the shortest, highest energy wavelengths in the visible light spectrum. Because they are shorter, these ‘blue’ or High Energy Visible (HEV) wavelengths flicker more easily than longer, weaker wavelengths. This kind of flickering creates a glare that can reduce visual contrast and affect sharpness and clarity. This flickering and glaring are also one of the reasons for eyestrains, headaches, physical and mental fatigue caused by many hours of sitting in front of a computer screen or other electronic device. Prolonged exposure to blue light may cause retinal damage and contribute to age-related macular degeneration, which can lead to loss of vision. Harvard researchers have linked working in the night and exposure to blue light at night to several types of cancer (breast, prostate) diabetes, heart disease, obesity and an increased risk for depression. WHAT YOU CAN DO Avoid looking at bright screens beginning two to three hours before bed. If you work a night shift or use a lot of electronic devices at night, consider wearing blue-blocking glasses or installing an app that filters the blue/ green wavelength at night. Expose yourself to lots of bright light during the day, which will boost your ability to sleep at night, as well as your mood and alertness during daylight. Blink, blink, blink. One reason that we are more susceptible to dry eye when using electronics is that our blink rate is reduced significantly. Put a post-it note on your computer screen that says ‘Blink’! Blinking more often will keep your eyes moist and refreshed. It is impossible to avoid digital devices in the workplace, but you can reduce the amount of time you spend on electronics when you are not working. Digital devices often provide a passive ‘escape’ from reality that seems enjoyable, but it can be a poor use of your time and can just increase eye fatigue and muscle strain.