Stop squinting and start blinking

Have you ever considered using blue light blocking spectacles because you spend a lot of time in front of computer screens? Well, here’s what you need to know about them.

By Rithwik Burra

With the use of technology, fake news continues to hover in the air. Here is a spoiler of this article: the blue light blocking-spectacles we use to protect our eyes are probably a waste of money. While the blue light from the screens isn’t powerful enough to damage our retinas, the light from the sun is. In this article, we’re going to learn what is blue light and the precautions you need to take to protect your eyes from it. Let’s start with learning about blue light.

As the name itself suggests, blue light is “blue” light. It is a part of the visible light spectrum (ROYGBIV). Rays on the red end of the spectrum have a longer wavelength and less energy compared to that of the blue end, which has a shorter wavelength and high energy. The Sun is the largest producer of blue light and UV rays. Tactical/Military grade flashlights, CFL bulbs, fluorescent lights, LED lights, LED TVs, and computer, smartphone, and tablet screens are some of the other sources. And although the blue light exposure from the above-mentioned sources is relatively low compared to that of the sun, they still can have long-term effects on our health.

Source: Shutterstock-1832648611

As the research states, “Because of blue light’s short wavelength, the focus is not located in the center of the retina but rather in the front of the retina, so that the long exposure time to blue light causes a worsening of visual fatigue and nearsightedness. Symptoms such as diplopia and inability to concentrate can affect people’s learning and working efficiency¹ . Blue light affects not only our eyesight but also our working and learning efficiency.

Similar to the effects of learning, blue light affects children more than adults as children may be more sensitive to blue light. Children’s eyes don’t filter blue light as well as adults’ do, as the amount of light that can be transmitted from the front of the retina to the center of it is “age-related.” Some studies suggest that too much blue light, from device screens, may raise the chances of developing obesity, nearsightedness, and attention focusing issues in kids².

While the blue light from electronic gadgets is not harmful to the retina, it still messes with the circadian rhythm or sleep cycle. Blue light prevents the sleep hormone, melatonin, from being released and thus signaling your brain to stay awake when it should be sleeping. It is recommended that we should avoid using gadget screens at least 2–3 hours before sleep. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests that children under age two years should avoid screens³.The AAP also recommends that parents establish media-free zones in the home — including bedrooms — and limit their children’s screen time to one hour or less of high-quality content each day .

Should I avoid blue light completely?

Blue light is a double-edged sword. American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) suggests that not getting enough exposure to sunlight in children could affect the growth and development of their vision as it could increase the risk of myopia or severe myopia in them⁶. It is also proven that exposure to UVB radiation (sunlight) can reduce the odds of developing myopia in teens and adults⁷. During the day, the blue light tends to improve attention and mood by preventing the

release of melatonin, whereas at the night it prevents you from getting enough rest. So let your children play in the sunlight, but limit the time. Remember that limiting isn’t about restricting; it is about caring thoughtfully while letting your children make decisions on their own.

What do I do now?

American Academy of Ophthalmology advises following the 20–20–20 rule to alleviate digital eyestrain: take a 20-second break to view something 20 feet away every 20 minutes. I know that it is a lot to ask, but at least blink in every once in a while. For those of you who are squinting at the screen while reading this article — take a second, and BLINK!

“Researchers found squinting at a computer screen halves the normal number of times a person blinks per minute, which could lead to an irritating but treatable condition called dry eye.”

Secondly, lower your screen brightness. Limiting your screen time and maintaining a considerable distance between your eyes and the screen is a good way to start. If you feel like you already have dry eyes because of excessive use of technology, well, it’s not too late to start using eye drops or artificial tears to limit their progression (make sure you go to an eye check-up and talk to a doctor before you do this). Using a screen protector that also blocks blue light is a worthwhile thing to do as it is proven that the screen protector decreased the intensity at 450 nm for every setting other than those at 0% brightness. It is also an important thing if you’re using an iPhone 8 series or over, to turn on the “Night Shift” mode⁹.

What if I dont?

Digital eye strain, also known as computer vision syndrome, encompasses a range of ocular and visual symptoms, and estimates suggest its prevalence may be 50% or more among computer users¹⁰. Symptoms include dry and irritated eyes, blurred vision, and headaches. Blue light is also likely to cause phototoxicity, cataract, age-related macular degeneration, and other vision defects. As I mentioned earlier that blue light prevents the release of the sleep hormone melatonin and messes with your circadian rhythm, there is a research that suggests that the desynchronization of circadian rhythms may play a role in various tumoral diseases, diabetes, obesity, depression, and Alzheimer’s disease¹¹. So if you think using gadgets before falling asleep might not hugely affect you, you could be mistaken.

But why blink?

Blinking is a workout to the eyes. Rahul Khurana, an ophthalmologist and vitreoretinal surgeon in North Carolina and spokesperson for the AAO says, “This [blinking] allows your eyes to re-nourish the ocular surface with tears, which usually helps with digital eyestrain¹².”

By this time, you might be probably wondering why using blue light-blocking spectacles aren’t a good idea. The short answer is that there is no strong evidence that these spectacles are as effective as they are advertised¹³.

Finally, let me give you a piece of advice: Use sunglasses with UV protection while you’re outdoors in sunlight. Put on some sunscreen, and drink enough water to stay hydrated. Until next time.





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Rithwik Burra

Rithwik Burra


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