Optometric Health | The Truth About Blue Light and Computer Use

A breakdown of how you and your family can adapt to a world with increasing daily technological use

By Cindy P. Wang, OD, FAAO, South Pasadena Optometric Group

With many of us working from home these days and students and children spending more time online, optometrists are seeing a significant increase in complaints of eye fatigue, dry eyes, blurry vision and headaches. Many of these symptoms can be easily resolved by:

1) taking 30 second breaks from near work every 30 minutes by looking out the window

2) working at a distance of 16 inches or greater

3) having adequate lighting and

4) wearing computer or reading glasses

Another valid concern is whether exposure to blue light from electronic devices is harmful to the eyes, especially to those of children. Studies have not shown that blue light from devices is damaging to the structures of the eyes or increases the likelihood of eye diseases. However, they confirm that blue light causes eye fatigue, blurry vision, dry eyes, and headaches. And many of us already know that blue light disrupts our sleep quality and impairs alertness the next day.

Therefore, although blue light is not damaging to the health of the eyes, we do know that it can cause eye strain and affect sleep. Your exposure to blue light is also much greater outdoors than from electronic devices so it’s actually more important to protect the eyes outdoors.

Here’s what our doctors recommend regarding blue light exposure:

  1. Wear glasses or sunglasses outdoors that have confirmed UVA/UVB protection. Most prescription eyeglass lenses should automatically come with this protection.
  2. Consider adding a blue light filter to your anti-glare coating on your glasses.
  3. For the best reduction in blue light, you may use yellow tinted lenses instead.
  4. An alternative to blue light filters on eyeglass lenses is turn on the “night shift mode” on your electronic devices or adjust your monitor color to less blue. This applies particularly to children and those who don’t need eyeglasses.
  5. I would recommend testing a blue light filter coating before purchasing. Some of our patients (especially those over 50 years old) find that reducing blue light also dims their vision and makes computer use more difficult.

Hopefully, you and your family will find these recommendations helpful as we all adjust to our new situations.

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