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What's That Blue Light From Your Phone Doing To Your Eyes?

Written by Dr. Bugaeva Irina Viktorovna on Fri, 11 November 2022

Key Highlights

  • Technology helps in the treatment of various eye-related disorders via surgery, also some eye tests help doctors in prescribing the correct medication.
  • Technology negatively impacts the eyes as screen time has increased significantly for humans 
  • Natural blue light has some positive effects but artificial blue light has adverse effects on the eyes. 
  • Simple lifestyle changes can bring about a significant positive difference in the health of the eyes of an individual.
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There has been a drastic rise in the number of people suffering from vision impairments and eye problems due to digitalization and extreme working hours. 

This number is not restricted to the adult population but many kids and teenagers are also increasingly getting issues with vision.

What is blue light?

Blue light and sleepBlue light which is also known as high-energy visible (HEV) light is one of the causes of digital eye strain. 

HEV comes in two forms – artificial (from mobile phones, computer screens, led lights, etc.) and natural (from the sun).

Natural blue light has some beneficial effects:

  • Boosts alertness
  • Helps to regulate the body's natural sleeping pattern
  • Helps with memory

However, blue light also has some negative effects:

  • Digital Eyestrain Syndrome/Digital Eye Fatigue
  • May contribute to age-related macular degeneration
  • Lowers melatonin levels might be associated with other types of health problems

Most common effects of artificial blue light

Let's take a deeper dive into the most common effect of artificial blue light – digital eye fatigue. 

1. Digital eye fatigue

Digitalization has become inevitable and so has the stress on the eyes and vision. We are constantly exposed to digital gadgets and laptops daily, with education going digital, kids are now prone to eye impairments and vision disabilities.

The growing stress on the eyes due to excessive and prolonged exposure to laptop, tablets, mobile, and computer screens lead to a condition called digital eye strain and it further complicates the computer vision syndrome. 

The vision syndrome occurs due to repeated back-and-forth movement of your retina on the screen which requires constant focusing and refocusing. Your eyes tend to become hypersensitive to changing images and fonts that tend to exhaust your eye muscles.

This overuse of technology causes great strain on the user's eyes. One main effect technology has is causing eye strain, headaches, focusing difficulty, double vision, etc. 

Without looking at technology, a user's eye blinks 12-15 times a minute. However, when a user is focusing on a digital screen, they forget to blink. This can lead to a user blinking only 7 times a minute. The decrease in blinking can lead to less lubrication which results in dry and extremely sore eyes.

  • It is estimated that 50-90% of people who work on computers have reported digital eye fatigue symptoms. 
  • Digital eye fatigue (also known as asthenopia) has a variety of side effects including dry eyes, difficulty focusing, headache, tiredness, and light sensitivity. 
  • Eye fatigue is linked to the prolonged use of any technology permitting light such as TVs, laptop/computer screens, mobile phones, and tablets.

2. Retinal damage

Tips to tackle digital eye strain

For most people, it is common to use a phone for almost everything, including an alarm clock. 

Unfortunately, this means the phone is next to your bed, easily used before going to sleep and right when you wake up.

  • Constantly staring at the screen of your cell phone is quite dangerous for your eye health as it can result in retinal damage. 
  • Exposure to too much blue light that is transmitted by any LED device will damage your eyes. 
  • This becomes even more dangerous at night when your eyes are more focused on the blue light. 
  • Retinal damage may result in macular degeneration and damaged central vision.

3. Computer vision syndrome

Unfortunately, this is exactly what it sounds like. It occurs when our eyes stare at a computer screen for extended periods. The most common symptoms of computer vision syndrome include:

  • Dry eyes
  • Headaches
  • Light sensitivity
  • Blurred vision
  • Itchy or watery eyes
  • Eye strain

Depending on the patient, these symptoms can range from mild discomfort to severe eye health problems. 

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and constantly use electronic devices like a computer screen, you may be suffering from computer vision syndrome. 

4. Headaches & migraines

The most common negative effect of screens on the eyes is experiencing a headache or even a migraine. 

  • When you stare at a screen for an extended period, eyestrain will most likely occur and can cause tension headaches.
  • Typically, the contrast between the brightness of the screen and the darker text makes our eyes work harder than they need to, ultimately triggering eye strain and headaches. 
  • For some patients, this pain may be more severe and cause a migraine. Unfortunately, migraines can quickly cause other symptoms like nausea, light sensitivity, and temporary blindness.

Take better care of your eyes

1. Eat a healthy, balanced diet

  • Your diet should include plenty of fruits and vegetables, especially deep yellow and green leafy vegetables. 
  • Eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, and halibut can also help your eyes.

2. Wear sunglasses

  • Sun exposure can damage your eyes and raise your risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. 
  • Protect your eyes by using sunglasses that block out 99 to 100% of both UV-A and UV-B radiation.

3. Wear protective eyewear

  • To prevent eye injuries, you need eye protection when playing certain sports, working in jobs such as factory work and construction, and doing repairs or projects in your home.

4. Give your eyes rest

  • If you spend a lot of time using a computer, you can forget to blink your eyes and your eyes can get tired. 
  • To reduce eyestrain, try the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look away about 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds.

Conclusion

To conclude, we can confirm that blue light and technology has a major impact on the eyes. 

There may be a few positive impacts of technology as well but overall, due to the overuse of technology, the negative impacts of technology are more prominent. 

One must reduce their screen time but it is easier said than done. There are ways wherein we can monitor your eye care to have a healthy lifestyle, and that would include us following simple steps: Eating the correct food, using glasses while using mobile, laptops, or even watching television. 

These steps would make a significant difference over the years and will help you maintain healthy eyes.

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Dr. Bugaeva Irina Viktorovna

She graduated from Lugansk State Medical University in 1995. Qualification of pediatrics, ultrasound diagnostics, pediatric gastroenterology. 10 years experience as a doctor.

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  1. Seeing your way to better eye health available at Health Harvard
  2. Kozeis N. Impact of computer use on children's vision. Hippokratia. 2009 Oct;13(4):230-1