//How to Eliminate Blue Light Effect On Your Eyes

How to Eliminate Blue Light Effect On Your Eyes

If you’ve ever noticed a blue sky on a cloudless day, then you’ve observed how blue light works. Though, you may not have been aware of its dangers or how often our eyes come into contact with it from different sources in addition to sunlight. Sunlight is one of the largest sources of blue light we are exposed to each day, but there are other sources of blue light all around us including fluorescent lights, Compact Fluorescent Light, CFL, Light Emitting Diodes, LED, flat screen televisions, computer monitors, smart phones, iPad and tablet screens.

Even though the screens we look at every day emit a lot less blue light than the sunlight, the worry is the amount of time we look at these screens and how close we hold them to our face. This concern is especially prevalent in regards to children’s eyes since young, developing eyes absorb more blue light than adult eyes. Additionally, this damage builds as time goes on, meaning the more exposure we have to blue light, the more potential damage to our eyes.

Almost all blue light passes through the cornea, then the lens, until it reaches the retina. Our eyes are not very good at blocking blue light. And, because of the short wavelength and high energy that scatters more easily than other light, our eyes do not focus it as easily. All of this exposure may increase our risk of macular degeneration since blue light penetrates all the way to the inner lining of the back of the eye. Continued exposure may lead to damaged retinal cells, and other vision problems such as eye strain, dry eyes, blurred vision, digital eye strain, fatigue, sore, irritated eyes, difficulty focusing, cortical cataracts, or headaches. Some studies even suggest over exposure to blue light may lead to pinguecula or pterygium growths that cover the cornea, or even cancer. As we age, our eye’s ability to block light that consists of short wavelengths can lead to vision loss.


  • Sunlight exposure and eclipse viewing studies concluded that damage to the eye from sunlight exposure shows up and builds over time, contributing to age-related macular degeneration. In these studies, those exposed to more than five hours a day of summer sun in their teens, had a higher risk of developing retinal changes as they age than those exposed to sunlight for less than two hours each day.
  • Approximately 80 percent of adults in America claim they view a digital screen for more than two hours each day. More than half of these adults express that they have experienced symptoms of eye strain. If blue light emitted from digital devices has this big of an impact on adults, what is it doing to our children whose eyes are still developing and impressionable?
  • More than 70 percent of American adults report that their children are exposed to more than two hours of screen time each day between using a digital device or watching television. These children also admit to having experienced headaches, neck or shoulder pain, eye strain, dry or irritated eyes, and their teachers or parents have reported them to have shown reduced attention spans, poor behavior, or irritability.

What is Blue Light?

Blue light is also sometimes referred to as high-energy visible, HEV, and comprises about one-third of all visible light. Gary Heiting OD, explains that there is the visible light, that we can see with our eyes, and invisible ultraviolet, UV Rays, that can have a harmful impact on our bodies, including our eyes.

Light has a range of various colored rays. Each contain and emit different levels of energy. The bright, white sunlight we see is actually made up of the colors of the rainbow – Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet light. When these colors are all combined together, they appear white to our eyes. When you break down this white light, each individual color has its own energy and wavelength. Even though sunlight consists of several colors, we are more likely to see the color blue when we look at the sky, because their high energy rays and short wavelengths quickly scatter when they come into contact with water molecules in the atmosphere.

The spectrum of light rays ranges from red, with low energy to blue with higher energy. Scientists measure light wavelengths in terms of nanometers (nm), ranging from 380 nm on the blue end to about 700 nm on the red end. However, this spectrum continues beyond that on both the red and the blue end. The electromagnetic rays that extend beyond the red end are warming, emitting infrared radiation. On the blue end of the spectrum, it extends to ultraviolet radiation light. UV light emits between 100-380 nm. These same UV rays that cause sunburns and skin cancer also enter the eye.

The American Optometric Association reports that the most offending EM spectrum are the UV-A (315 nm to 400 nm), UV-B (280 nm to 315 nm), and the blue-light portion of the visible spectrum (380 nm to 500 nm). UV light can cause damage to the anterior eye, while short visible light, or blue light, causes damage to the retinal structures.

Blue Light and Digital Screens

With electronic devices growing in popularity, the light emitted from digital screens is raising health concerns. This captured the attention of Apple, maker of the iPhone and iPad. One concern was that the blue light coming from the smartphone or iPad was wreaking havoc with their users’ sleep patterns. Too much exposure to blue light late at night has been shown to disturb the wake/sleep cycle leading to sleepless nights and fatigue and tiredness during the day.  So, they came up with a way to activate blue light filtering at night. They simply named it, “Blue Light Filter” and included this feature in an iOS update.

If your phone or tablet does not already come with blue light filtering settings, you can purchase screen protector shields. Some come with thin tempered glass that helps to protect the screen from scratches while protecting the eye as well.

Alleviate some of blue light exposure by decreasing the amount of screen time, take frequent breaks to rest your eyes, or wear yellow-tinted glasses or anti-reflective lenses to reduce glare. Computer glasses are a good idea to wear when you need to look at digital screens often. Both yellow tinted and anti-reflective glasses increase the contrast and alleviate much of the damaging light.

Additional ways to help reduce damaging light is to reduce overhead lighting to eliminate screen glare, position yourself an arm’s distance away from light-emitting screens, and increase text font size. Place the screen slightly lower than eye level. Change the lighting to lower glare, and use glare filters. Use an adjustable chair, choose screens that tilt or swivel and a keyboard that can be adjusted.

Protection from Blue Light Damage

Our eyes have a few components that help protect them. One is the structure of the eye has antioxidant mechanisms that defend the eye from ambient radiation, though this begins to decline around age 40. The eye also naturally yellows with age which helps to protect the retina from short wavelength radiation. Since a young child’s eyes are clearer and more likely to let light pass through to the retina, it is important to monitor their exposure to blue light from digital sources as well as sunlight. Young children should always wear wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses when exposed to bright sunlight as they may cut their risk for damage nearly in half.

Bad lighting or how you sit in front of a digital screen may play a part in exposure to blue light. Research indicates that in terms of protecting eyes, the positioning of the light source may be more important than the type of light. When reading or working with a lit screen, additional lighting is not necessary. When working with print on paper, position the light source to the side of the task or behind you. Also reduce reflection or glare from windows or other light sources.

Turns out, seeing the world through rose-colored, or maybe yellow or amber glasses, may hold more of a secret to eye health than the phrase intends.  If you already wear corrective lenses in the form of glasses, protecting your eyes from dangerous light should be a high priority in selecting your next pair. One way to help filter all of this blue light away from your eyes while still receiving the necessary amount of blue light for clarity is to wear blue blocking glasses. These glasses also help relieve eye strain as they help to eliminate glare, which forces our eyes to work harder to focus. Special glasses to protect from blue light are available without a prescription. If you already wear corrective lenses, they can be specially prescribed and built into your glasses or contact lens.

Blue-light-reducing glasses also offer magnification features and are also available in select contact lenses. If you wear bifocals or progressive lenses, ask your eye care professional about prescription computer glasses with single vision lenses to provide you with additional benefit of a larger field of view, so you can look at larger screens more clearly. Additionally, you can get a special glare-reducing anti-reflective coating on your glasses to block blue light, or select a photochromic lens that automatically darkens in response to UV rays indoors or out.

To protect the retina from blue light, a yellow, amber, orange, or red lens is needed, though an orange or red lens is not recommended for everyday use since they can alter the ability to recognize traffic signals or other color perception. All sunglasses should be labeled as ANSI Z80.3 standard which means the lens tint won’t alter traffic signal light perception. Another source of blue light is dental equipment. Wearing an amber lens helps to protect against this.

Hormones and Blue Light

Blue light stimulates us and inhibits sleep. It has an impact on our overall alertness and wakefulness that come from intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells, which are important elements of our circadian rhythm. When they are stimulated, melatonin is suppressed. Even if you are not using a smartphone or tablet at night, newer light sources, such as CFL and LED, emit more blue light than incandescent sources.


The National Eye Institute studied how nutritional supplements impact age-related eye disease and concluded that the macular degeneration risk was lowered by 25 percent when high doses of vitamin C, E, beta-carotene and zinc were used. Additionally, lutein, zeaxanthin, and omega 3’s were found to reduce macular degeneration progression by about 10 percent.

Stress Effect

With all the worry about blue light, it does have some benefits. First, if children are not exposed to enough sunlight, it can affect the growth and development of their eyes and vision adversely. Blue light helps us regulate our circadian rhythm. Our body’s respond to blue light by becoming more alert. It also is a mood lifter and helps boost memory and cognitive functions. Blue light therapy is even used to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder SAD, which is a kind of depression that occurs during changes in seasons, usually from fall into winter when the natural light from sunlight is at its lowest, or we spend more time indoors exposed to artificial light.

While blue light therapy has benefits, when blue light begins to interfere with our sleep or causes damage to our vision, it is natural for this to bring on stress and an overall feeling of fatigue and time to take action to prevent further damage.



Progress in retinal and eye research, 2011, LED light – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21600300?report=abstract

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 2015, Night Screen Light Exposure – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25535358

AMD, Review of Optometry, 2014 – https://www.reviewsce.com/ce/the-lowdown-on-blue-light-good-vs-bad-and-its-connection-to-amd-109744

UV Damage to Eye, Review of Optometry, 2012 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3872277/

Retinal Light Toxicity, 2011 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3144654/

Effects of Blue Light on Circadian System and Eye Physiology, 2016 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4734149/