Digital Eye Strain and Blue Light

Sunlight is made up of infrared, visible, and ultraviolet lights.  These lights contain a various amount of energy depending on their wavelengths.  Within the visible spectrum, red rays have long wavelengths and low energy, whereas blue rays have short wavelengths and more energy.  Sources of blue rays can be found in various commonly used white light sources, such as fluorescent light, LED lights, computer screens, tablets, and smartphones.  Although blue lights can have some health benefits, recent studies have shown that it can also be harmful to our eyes.

woman rubbing her head from digital eye strain - 360 metroMost of us spend the majority of our waking hours staring at digital screens, whether it’s the computer at work, our personal cell phone, playing a video game, or just relaxing and watching television.  Digital Eyestrain or Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) is a new term used to describe the condition that occurs when your eyes become symptomatic from the use of today’s popular electronic gadgets on a daily basis.

There are a variety of eyestrain symptoms that people can experience such as:

  • Eye fatigue/ tired eyes
  • Eye discomfort
  • Headaches
  • Dry eyes/ itchy eyes/ irritated eyes
  • Blurry vision / double vision
  • Neck pain / shoulder pain / back pain

So, what are some benefits of blue light? Being exposed to blue light helps with mood elevation, memory alertness and cognitive function.  It also helps regulate our circadian rhythm, setting our natural wake and sleep cycle.  If we expose ourselves to a lot of blue light before bed, our brain would release more melatonin, making the body think it’s daytime and be more aware and awake.  It is recommended to avoid activities involving a screen at least one hour before bed.

Early research shows that blue light can penetrate through the eye and reach the retina.  Given the high energy in the blue light, it can create free radicals, which can cause potential damage to the macula (area of retina with the best central vision).  This can increase one’s risk to age-related macular degeneration.  It has also been found in a study that blue lights are more readily absorbed in children’s eyes than adults, putting children at a higher risk if exposed to too much screen time.  In addition, blue rays from devices can also decrease contrast, causing digital eyestrain.

Here are a few recommendations to help relieve eye strains:

  • Get an eye exam
  • Exercise your eyes using the 20-20-20 rule (every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds).
  • Blink more often
  • Take frequent breaks
  • Use proper lighting

Speak to your Optometrist about computer glasses and if blue light filter coating on your glasses is right for you.

Maintaining your eye health is key to reducing more serious vision problem you may encounter in the future.  You should see your Optometrist annually for your comprehensive eye health and vision exam, especially if you experience frequent or long-lasting eyestrain.  To speak to one of our optometrists or to book an eye exam at any of our three locations please visit our website at for contact information.