Protecting Your Vision from Blue Light Damage

Blue light is all around us. It comes from the sun, fluorescent and LED lights, and most of all, from our electronic devices. As the world has become more centered around technology, our daily exposure to blue light has increased dramatically due to the rising use of TVs, computers, tablets, smartphones, and other screen-based devices. Because this rapid increase in blue light exposure has only occurred in the last few years, doctors and other experts are still discovering the long-term effects of that high exposure on our eye health and how that impacts our eyes. However, the data we currently have indicates that excessive exposure to blue light can be harmful to your eyes and other aspects of your health.

Here’s what you need to know about blue light, its impact on your eye health, and the simple steps you can take to manage your blue light exposure, as recommended by our eye doctor in Orlando, FL.

How Blue Light Impacts Your Eyes

If the sun produces blue light daily, can it be harmful to your vision? Blue light is a portion of the visible light spectrum, and, even though it may be naturally occurring, it still has its dangers when you’re overexposed to it. Consider, for example, the damage that UV rays can cause to your skin. We take steps to protect our skin from those harmful rays, yet our technology replicates blue light from the sun and shines it directly into our eyes—often for hours at a time. In short, yes, blue light can be pretty harmful, particularly with the high level of exposure most people experience in our modern world.

Blue light can penetrate the macular pigment in your eye and damage the retina. According to the American Macular Degeneration Foundation, overexposure to blue light can lead to macular degeneration over the years and the development of cataracts. But the most severe problem blue light can cause is retinal damage, which can be detected during an eye exam in Orlando. The exact amount of damage can vary depending on the precise wavelength of the light, intensity, and total time of exposure. However, the more exposure you have to blue light daily, the more likely you will experience this kind of harm.

How Blue Light Impacts Your Sleep

As we’ve already stated, the sun naturally creates blue light. It signals to our brains that it’s time to be awake because blue light means the sun is up, according to our brain’s chemical reactions. Exposure to blue light suppresses the production of melatonin, the hormone that helps to wind down and makes us feel sleepy. In addition to being harmful to your eyes, excessive blue light exposure can harm your sleep cycles—and poor sleep can lead to poor overall health.

Exposure to blue light late in the evenings prevents your body from producing the melatonin it needs to relax and prepare for bed properly. Unfortunately, screens are a normal part of most people’s bedtime routines nowadays. How often do you stream a show or scroll through social media on your phone immediately before trying to fall asleep? If you’re like most people, this probably happens almost every night.

The effects of this blue light exposure have been studied thoroughly. The results show that it is more difficult to fall asleep after nighttime exposure to blue light, but you’re also likely to experience reduced REM sleep. The REM stage of your sleep cycle helps you feel well-rested in the morning, so missing out on this vital part of sleep can negatively impact your overall health.

Protecting Yourself from Blue Light Harm

With blue light so prevalent in our lives, what can you do to protect yourself from it? You can’t avoid all blue light, but you can take steps to reduce your exposure to it and protect your eyes (and your sleep) from the harmful effects. Consider trying some of these simple steps:

  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses to protect your eyes from naturally occurring blue light.
  • Switch your LED bulbs that emit blue light to an alternative bulb with a softer, ambient glow.
  • Consider wearing blue-light-blocking glasses when you will be in front of a screen for an extended time (e.g., if you work at a computer all day).
  • View your screens appropriately; your computer screen should be an arm’s length away.
  • Take frequent breaks and refocus your eyes on something more distant for at least 20 seconds every 20 minutes.
  • Avoid screens and blue light before bed; try reading a book or listening to music to wind down instead.

These steps might seem simple, but they can significantly impact your long-term eye health.

About Bay Hill Eye Care

At Bay Hill Eye Care, we strive to promote better overall eye health for our patients. We want to help you develop good eye health habits, and provide the professional eye care in Orlando, FL, that you need to protect your vision for years to come. We offer a variety of solutions that can help protect your eyes from blue light at our eye care center in Orlando, FL. If you’re concerned about how blue light exposure impacts your eyes, contact Bay Hill Eye Care today.