protect your light sensitive eyes from computer blue lightProtect your light sensitive eyes from computer blue light

Digital eye strain and nearsightedness have long been known as side effects of increasing digital device use. However, recently computer blue light has been investigated. Since blue light can reach deeper into the eye than ultraviolet light, it might damage the retina. But, what will computer blue light do to your retina if you have light sensitive eyes?

Is having light sensitive eyes just a matter of feeling pain at lower brightness and glare levels than other people would? Or could it be that the retina in the light sensitive eyes might also be more easily damaged by blue light exposure? I was thinking about these issues as I was reading the 2015 Digital Eye Strain report  by The Vision Council. Below is a summary of the report with an emphasis on computer blue light and how it might affect your light sensitive eyes.

What is computer blue light?

Let’s first look at what blue light can do to people who normally do not have light sensitive eyes. Overexposure to blue light might impact long-term vision health. Blue light can be an important component of light that appears white (see image below). Also known as high-energy visible (HEV) light, blue light is emitted by backlit electronic device displays which are currently predominant. High levels of blue light can also be emitted by light-emitting diode (LED) lights and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). Unfortunately many computer interfaces mimic white paper, such that the great majority of your screen tends to be white. An important portion of that white light is computer blue light.

How to protect your light sensitive eyes from computer blue light

The image is from The Vision Council 2015 Report.

Emerging research, which is based on people who do not have light sensitive eyes, suggests that prolonged exposure to blue light can damage retinal cells. Once damaged, the eyes are increasingly exposed to blue light which increases the risk of long-term visual problems, for example age-related macular degeneration (MAD) and cataracts.

This emerging research is hinting to what might be the answer to the question in an earlier post As sources of light, will electronic display devices harm your eyes?  Recent decades are the first time in history we are looking directly into light sources (digital devices) for extended periods of time. According to The Vision Council report an increasing proportion of people – currently between 35-40% of people aged 18-50 spend 9 hours or more per day looking at digital device screens emitting computer blue light!

Computer blue light causes digital eye strain and has adverse influence on night sleep when working on a computer (or other digital device) in the last few hours before going to sleep. On the positive side computer blue light may aid alertness memory and emotion regulation.

Computer blue light and light sensitive eyes

Last Christmas we used red and blue lights. I had no problem looking at red ones, but the blue ones I couldn’t stand – I started to feel pain in my light sensitive eyes immediately. The rest of the family who do not have light sensitive eyes had no problem with the blue ones. Clearly, the blue ones were off most of the time.

I am guessing that light sensitive eyes are more susceptible to negative effects than eyes that are not light sensitive. On the other hand it might also be that light sensitive eyes are “equipped” with a safety mechanism. Light sensitive eyes detect harmful blue light sooner and at lower light levels than eyes that are not light sensitive. In this way light sensitive people may react quicker and prevent damage.

Unfortunately (to the best of my knowledge) there is no research specific to computer blue light and light sensitive eyes but it makes sense to be cautious.

How to protect your light sensitive eyes from computer blue light

The Vision Council report suggests the following ways to protect your eyes from blue light:

Personally I also like to combine blue light filter apps with personalized computer visuals – see 10 ways to change background color & reduce screen brightness. Recently I have been using orange text on black background with good results. Black background minimizes brightness and blue light emission. The orange should have very little if any blue light in it, but just in case I also turn on my computer blue light filter.

Would you suggest any other ways to protect light sensitive eyes from computer blue light?

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