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The dark side of blue light

Well hello there! 

You are reading those very words from a device that emits blue light, aren’t you? 

Don’t worry, nothing creepy going on here, we’re not spying on you, the statistics just speak for themselves. 

And you know what? 

This whole article was written from blue light-emitting devices too!

Our modern daily lives revolve around the screens of computers, tablets, smartphones, TVs and other digital devices and our screen time has reached record highs. Let’s talk numbers here. 

During COVID-19 lockdowns, 32.4% of the population used a blue light-emitting device 9 to 11 hours a day1. Another 15.5% used those devices up to 12 to 14 hours per day — a sizable increase in screen time, probably due to changes in the way people worked during the pandemic.

Of course, we can now enjoy the outdoors again with the opening of borders and rejoice that our eating companions are no longer restricted to the TV or our phones. 

But still, let’s not play ostrich here and admit that screens, of all sizes, are at the core of many aspects of our daily lives. All of these screens produce significant levels of blue light and it’s possible that there may be long-term effects on your eye health. 

So, should you be concerned? Let’s take a look!

What is blue light exactly?

Visible light is quite complex – in a nutshell, light waves vary in lengths, and each color has a determined wavelength. The longer the wave, the less energy it transmits. Blue light has very short, high energy waves that are similar to UV rays. 

We’ve all heard about the harmful effects of overexposure of UV rays, which can damage both your skin and your eyes. In the same light (pun intended), blue light waves are nearly as powerful. The most natural source of blue light is sunlight, but the larger danger comes from artificial blue light that meets our eyes from close range all day long.

Just take a moment to go to the “digital wellbeing” section in your smartphone’s settings, and look up what your average screen time is. Beware, you’ll be unpleasantly surprised.

Seeing blue in a good light

Rise and shine! 

The simple act of opening the blinds in the morning and letting sunlight come in helps you feel energized and awake.

One of the benefits of blue light is that it regulates your circadian rhythm – the body’s natural wake and sleep cycle. Exposure to blue light during daytime hours helps maintain a constant, healthy routine.

Beyond that ‘routine’, adequate blue light exposure helps boost alertness, memory, cognitive function and elevates one’s mood.

A darker shade of blue

As Mark Twain once wrote, ‘too much of anything is bad’ and this applies to blue light as well!

While current research indicates that blue light from computer screens and other digital devices aren’t likely to pose a serious risk to our eyes, long-term risks should definitely be considered.

Using digital devices up close or for long periods of time can lead to digital eye strain or computer vision syndrome. Some of the symptoms include dry, irritated eyes and blurred vision. 

Blue light may also damage our retinas, an ailment called phototoxicity2. The amount of damage depends on wavelength and exposure time. Studies have shown that even short exposure (a few minutes) may be harmful. A filter that cuts 94% of blue light has been shown to lessen the damage3.

Game on

Work hard, play harder, right?

We also look at screens during our time off – think binge-watching, or going down YouTube or TikTok rabbit-holes, not to forget gaming.

In fact, the number of gamers has topped 3.2 billion in 2021, which accounts for more than 40% of the world’s population4

While these habits of ours aren’t going away anytime soon, fret not! You needn’t go to the extremes of cutting out video/computer games or your smartphone completely as there are ways you can protect your eyes from the harmful effects of blue light.

Chase the blues away

If you are constantly using your phone for texting, emailing and web browsing, a simple way to reduce your blue light exposure is to apply a blue light filter to the screen of your devices.

Additionally, for you gamers, we have great news: wearing blue-light protective glasses will enhance your vision and thus your game performance. Nikon Lenswear Pure Blue UV lenses are available without an eye prescription in case you don’t need corrective lenses or if you routinely wear contact lenses to correct your eyesight.

Anti-reflective coatings have been developed to provide an added degree of blue light protection while guaranteeing the highest level of transparency and aesthetics. SeeCoat™ Next Blue by Nikon Lenswear has the unparalleled capacity to filter blue light and UV rays while providing natural colours to the wearer.

If you’re an active person who shuttles frequently between indoors and outdoors, you may want to consider photochromic lenses such as Transitions® lenses, which provide UV and blue light protection indoors and automatically darken in sunlight to increase comfort and reduce glare outdoors.

Make the best choice for your eyes and protect them from the harmful blue light of your screens. Discover our range of products and consult your Nikon Lenswear eye care professional today for more advice on the best glasses that complement your lifestyle and protect your eyes from blue light. 

(1) Bahkir FA, Grandee SS. Impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on digital device-related ocular health. Indian J Ophthalmol. 2020;68(11):2378-2383. doi:10.4103/ijo.IJO_2306_20
(2) Lin, C. H., Wu, M. R., Huang, W. J., Chow, D. S., Hsiao, G., & Cheng, Y. W. (2019). Low-Luminance Blue Light-Enhanced Phototoxicity in A2E-Laden RPE Cell Cultures and Rats. International journal of molecular sciences, 20(7), 1799
(3) Vicente-Tejedor J, Marchena M, Ramírez L, García-Ayuso D, Gómez-Vicente V, Sánchez-Ramos C, de la Villa P, Germain F. Removal of the blue component of light significantly decreases retinal damage after high intensity exposure. PLoS One. 2018 Mar 15;13(3):e0194218. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0194218. PMID : 29543853; PMCID : PMC5854379
(4) J. Clement, Sep 7, 2021. Number of video gamers worldwide 2021, by region