Eye Care Health Share Tweet You’ve probably heard about blue light and its damaging effects on our health, but brushed it off in the craziness that’s been filling our news feeds in the last year and a half. Still, given that people of all ages (starting with 2+ year-olds) are constantly exposing themselves to devices that emit this type of light, it’s important to bring the topic in actuality once more. Therefore, today we are going to talk about what is blue light and how it affects your health in the long term. What is Blue Light? The main source of blue light in our lives is the sun (like ultraviolet rays and blue light) but we learned how to diminish its harmful effects by using UV sunblocks and sunglasses. However, we now have another source of blue light in our lives – our modern devices (smartphones, laptops, tablets, smart TVs, and so on). And, while most of them are safe for moderate use, we are now using them for almost anything from work to entertainment. After all, who among us doesn’t spend at least a few nights a week scrolling social media, watching streamed content, or reading various articles online? We need more research on how these devices may affect our eyes, but for now, specialists believe that blue light from electronics can be linked with eyestrain, dry eye, and blurry vision. Additionally, long-term exposure can cause macular degeneration and cataracts. On top of that, the use of blue-light-emitting devices is believed to disturb the natural sleep cycle. 5 Long-Term Effects [You Can Prevent] 1. Eye Strain If you stay too much in front of a screen, you’ll notice your eyes get dry and red (as the first symptoms of fatigue and eye strain). This happens because we blink at a slower rate while watching the content displayed on these screens and we tend to keep the eye in focus mode most of the time. As a result, the eye muscles get tired, which also leads to blurry vision and even light sensitivity. Additionally, constant exposure to artificial blue light may also damage the retina and mess with your light receptors. To keep your eyes safe and prevent fatigue and eye strain, it’s important to take breaks and get your eyes to rest. Also, if you suffer from light sensitivity, a pair of photophobia glasses will help you deal with the discomfort and prevent future damage to the eye tissue. 2. Increased Cancer Risk One study found that people who work the night shift are at greater risk for various types of cancer, and one of the risk factors considered was long-term blue light exposure. Still, there are lots of other factors to consider, and we need more research on this topic before we can tell for sure. 3. Sleep Pattern Disruption Screen time right before you fall asleep is linked to poor sleeping patterns (which leads to a whole new area of health problems). This happens because blue light keeps the brain active and reduces the release of the sleep hormone melatonin. Therefore, to improve your sleep, power down your devices at least 3 hours before going to bed. Instead, read a book or write in your journal (it helps to unload the mind). 4. Health Problems in Children Our children use modern devices from a very young age, but this is not a bad thing if they are supervised by adults and their time in front of screens is limited. However, prolonged exposure to artificial blue light was shown to increase a child’s risk of becoming nearsighted or developing attention focus issues as they grow (among others). The solution here, just like with adults, is to limit the use of modern devices during the day and completely forbid it a few hours before bedtime. 5. It Influences Mental Health There are several studies that show there is a connection between the light around us and our overall mood. According to specialists, the photoreceptors in our brain have an influence on the emotional response center, which is why we tend to feel happy when it’s sunny outside and down when it’s dark and cloudy. Exposure to blue light is believed to have an energetic effect on the human brain (which is why it’s not recommended to use devices right before bed). However, long-term and constant exposure to this type of light can lead to mood disorders. These can be intensified by a poor sleeping cycle and lowered hormone secretions, which may lead to various mental health issues. In short, the best thing we can do right now for our health and the health of our children is to limit exposure time to devices. If this is not possible, then it’s important to use proper eyewear and set all the screens we’re using to emit as little blue light as possible. Lastly, make sure you make time to go outside and explore green spaces, which are known to help improve mental health and rest the eyes.