Between computers, tablets, and smart phones, we spend a lot of time looking at screens every day – almost half of every day, in fact.
The isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic boosted weekly screen times even higher. Aside from the well-documented effects that much screen time can have on your mental health, there’s a possibility it can affect your physical health too.
You may have read about or seen ads for blue light glasses or blue light filters, which are supposed to help protect your eyes from the harmful effects of a certain kind of blue light. This spectrum of blue light is created primarily by the sun, but also by fluorescent lights, LED TVs, and most device screens. Our eyes are not good at filtering blue light naturally, so most of it passes through the front of the eye to the retina (the part of the eye that helps the brain process what we see).
Some studies indicate that constant, ongoing exposure to blue light could eventually damage the retina, causing problems such as macular degeneration. However, these studies are ongoing and not conclusive. There is some evidence that blue-light blocking lenses do not actually protect your retinal health, despite what some advertisers may claim. Blue light lenses may help reduce eye strain from prolonged screen time, but that is unrelated to retina damage.
While blue light might not damage your retinas, it can still be harmful to you in other ways. Too much blue light can reduce your body’s production of melatonin and throw off your circadian rhythm, which disrupts your sleep cycle. A simple fix is to limit your screen time before bed so your body knows it’s time to go to sleep.