The Effects of Blue Light


Blue Light Glasses (Cr: Nenad Stojkovic (via flickr))

Kevin Han

As more and more people spend time on their electronic devices, blue light can affect them in many different ways. Blue light can have health benefits—however, it can lead to some diseases and hurt the eyes.

What is Blue Light?

Blue light is a part of the visible light spectrum, which the human eye can see. According to UC Davis Health, blue light is “within the 380 to 500 nanometer range, [and] it has the shortest wavelength, and highest energy. About one-third of all visible light is considered high-energy visible”. There are many sources of blue light in the world: sunlight, smartphone/computer screens, LEDs, and fluorescent light.

What Are Some Benefits of Blue Light?

From an article by UC Davis Health, “Blue light boosts alertness, helps memory and cognitive function, and elevates mood. It regulates the circadian rhythm, the body’s natural wake and sleep cycle. Sunlight is also important for the growth and development of the eyes and vision in children. Inadequate exposure to blue light can also contribute to the recent increase in myopia or nearsightedness”.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, when used therapeutically, blue light may also help with specific skin issues, such as acne, sun damage, and nonmelanoma skin cancers.

Are the Effects of Blue Light Bad for Someone?

Blue light can be unhealthy because it can lead to “computer vision syndrome, which can include headaches, loss of focus, burning/tired/red eyes, neck/shoulder pain, double vision, and blurred vision,” according to All About Vision.

Eyes are not good at blocking blue light, which means nearly all the blue light exposure to the eyes goes straight to the retina, which can harm one’s vision permanently. It can also increase the risk of macular degeneration, a harmful disease to the retina.

People also tend to blink less when using digital devices, contributing to dry eye and eye strain.

Blue light can be more harmful in the dark, according to studies. When exposed to blue light at night in a dark environment, it can harm the sleep schedule, leading to sleep distress. Blue light “tricks” the brain into thinking it is daytime, which results in the lack of melatonin (a sleep hormone) production.

Methods of Lessening the Effects of Blue Light

Some methods include getting blue light glasses—which decreases the amount of blue light exposure to the eyes. Limiting the amount of time spent on electronic devices, taking breaks to let the eyes rest, and applying filters to screens can lessen the effects of blue light. Many electronic devices have programs to limit the amount of blue light produced.

Blue light has many benefits as well as detriments—which can lead to health problems—so it is up to each individual to decide for themselves.