By: Emily Zhang
Yesterday I visited my optometrist. When she saw me using my phone in the waiting room and exam room, she asked me, “Have you heard about blue light? Did you know that it can hurt your eyes?”
What’s blue light? I heard the term before, but never really paid too much attention. When I got home, I started doing some research.
Blue light is a short wave light from LED devices, like cell phones, TVs, laptops, monitors, LED lights, etc. Blue light has very high energy and can damage your eye structure when it is in direct contact with your eyes. It can cause blurriness, vision reduction, or even loss of eyesight. It can also lead to eye related diseases such as cataracts or macular degeneration. Blue light also makes it hard for your eyes to focus, which tire your eye muscles out easily.
Blue light also affects both sleep quality and quantity. Checking social media posts or watching TV shows before sleeping can cause you to no longer feel sleepy. Even after you put away your phone, you might be too excited to fall asleep easily. One reason this happens is because of the long time exposed under blue light, which prevents your brain from generating a hormone called Melatonin – an important hormone to help you sleep. Some people even take diet supplements of Melatonin in order to get better sleep.
What can you do to reduce the damage from the blue light? First, try to reduce the time per day that you spend on electronic devices, such as your cell phone and laptop. Some apps give you the option to monitor screen time, and will give you a report at the end of each day. Some apps will even remind you to rest after 20 minutes.
Second, consider increasing the distance between you and your device. Recently people have been investing in laptop tables, which allows people to work while standing up. This can help you keep a good distance away from your laptop and also force you to not sit all day long. Cell phone holding systems, or cell phone projector, can also be used to help you keep a good distance away from your cell phone.
Some smart phones offer night shift mode, which switched the screen to use yellow light. Likewise, some chat windows allow you to set yellow backgrounds. There are also physical products that can help filter blue lights, such as filtered screen protectors or blue light block glass clip-ons. When you order your next nearsighted glasses or reading glasses, you can also consider using anti blue light lenses too. My optometrist told me that right now when a patient orders glasses from her clinic, she always includes anti blue light in the order.
“Since you use your phone so often, you should think of the damage of blue light to your eyes, and consider a pair of glasses with blue light filter,” she said.