Do you spend hours in front of a computer screen at work? Perhaps you log onto Facebook on the bus on the way home? Or maybe you watch TV for hours every evening? Most of us spend a huge proportion of our lives in front of a screen these days. But did you know it could be ruining your eyesight?
It’s very much a modern complaint and as a result there are no long-term studies on early degeneration of the eyes due to over use of digital appliances. It’s a phenomenon which is however increasingly being recognised by experts.
One aspect of digital eyestrain is the effect of blue light, which is the type of light emitted from LED backlights on computer/phone/tablet screens and bulbs says Don Stack, CEO of Optical Rooms, a company which provides eye screening and advice on how to protect your eyes.
What is Blue Light?
When you look at something in detail, the energy from blue light is transferred to the retina, the inner lining at the back of the eye. You view the blue light with the macula, which is part of the retina and the centre of our vision,” explains Don.
“The difference between blue light and yellow light, which we were exposed to before advances in technology, is that the blue light is on the indigo or blue end of the spectrum. This means that it emits high energy in short wavelengths,” he says. “It reaches deeper into the eye than yellow light and its effect has potential to damage the retina.
Damage caused by Blue Light
“This stimulates oxidative stress, which is an inability of the body to eradicate free radicals, in the light-sensitive cells of the macula. It causes changes that resemble those of macular degeneration, which can lead to permanent vision loss.”
In general, children are most at risk, as they have been exposed to less UV light and their lens is very clear. This allows blue light to pass easily through to the retina.
In addition, blue light can affect our sleeping patterns. Exposure to blue light prevents the release of melotonin from the pineal gland in the brain, therefore lessening the production of serotonin, which regulates sleep, in the body. As a result, it’s often harder to sleep if you’ve been looking at a laptop or phone, for example, before bedtime.
What can we do to protect our eyes?
Computer glasses, which are glasses with blue light control lenses, may help to protect your eyes when you're viewing digital devices for extended periods of time. Research has shown that these lenses block blue light with wavelengths less than 450 nm.
Another option is a blue light filter screen which can be fitted to most digital devices.
Another way to limit the damage caused by light is to replace fluorescent tube lighting with warm white lighting or lamps with incandescent bulbs.
Of course, by limiting the amount of time you spend in front of a screen – be it a tablet, a computer, a phone or a TV - you will automatically lessen the effect and damage to your eyes.
And even if your eyesight is perfect, you should take precautions to protect it.
“It’s important to remember that even those who do not need glasses to correct their vision will benefit long term from blue light control lenses, aimed at preserving ocular health for the future,” says Don.
For more information visit: www.opticalrooms.ie or telephone: 01 8089013.