Eye strain and blue light are major buzz words in the last couple years and it seems everyone is talking about it. From the start of the internet until December 31st 2010 there are 135,000 results on Google but from January 1st 2011 until today there are over 39,000,000 more results!
What is blue light? Blue light is a color in the visible light spectrum that is short wavelength and higher energy than other wavelengths of light. Blue light comes from the sun, computers, smart phones, TVs, tablets, and LED and fluorescent lights. Electronic devices emit more blue light than any other light.
Does blue light cause health problems? Blue light has been blamed for loss of sleep, headaches, eye strain, and even eye damage like macular degeneration. Laboratory studies on mice have shown that prolonged exposure to high intensity blue light damages retinal cells. Human studies have not shown this same negative effect on humans however because our eyes are different than those of mice.
What's the truth about blue light? Sunlight is almost all blue light and on a sunny afternoon it is about 100,000 brighter than your phone or computer screen. There have been no studies that show exposure to sunlight cause macular degeneration. So don't worry about your screens causing eye damage, but do continue to wear sunglasses outside because they are helpful.
Does blue light affect sleep? Yes, because of blue light tells your brain its daytime, it negatively affects your circadian rhythm. The best thing to do is to stop looking at your computer, table, TV, and phone an hour before bed and dim the lights in your house to help your body get ready for sleep.
Should I get blue light blocking glasses? No. Research shows that blue light blocking glasses only block about 15% of blue light and you could reduce your blue light exposure that much by holding your phone an inch further away from your face. As mentioned above sunlight has thousands of times more blue light, so your computer or phone is not something to worry about.
What does cause eye problems when using a computer or phone? The first problem is people blink less (half as much as normal) often when looking at a computer or phone and this causes inflammation of the eye. It is recommended to follow the 20-20-20 rule. The American Optometric Association defines this as taking a 20 second break every 20 minutes to look at something 20 feet away. This gives your eyes the chance to change focus, hydrate, and rest.
What else can I do for my eye health? Improve your posture and increase your oxygen consumption. Forward head posture, rounded shoulders, and a slouched upper back all negatively affect your eye health. These postures decrease the amount of oxygen getting to your brain and eyes because they decrease your lung capacity and blood flow to your head. Improving your posture will help increase oxygen in your blood and the amount of blood getting to your brain and eyes. Exercising will improve your cardiovascular fitness which also improves eye health.
About Matt Whitehead
I'm an Egoscue Institute certified Postural Alignment Specialist (PAS) and Advanced Exercise Therapist (AET), certified personal trainer, PatchFitness performer, FiveFingers wearer, trail runner, mountain biker, dad, music lover, environmentalist, and wanna-be slam dunk champion. I will be providing you with the latest posture exercises to help you live, play, and be pain free.