What is blue light and where does it come from? Is it bad for your eyes and should we be protecting our eyes from it? Let’s explore what the experts have to say about blue light and our kid’s eyes.
Have you heard about blue light?
It’s the naughty little light being emitted from digital devices like phones and tablets. Blue light is being blamed for our kid’s headaches, eye strain, inability to fall asleep at night, and tiredness the next day. It’s also being targeted as damaging to our eyes.
With the increased talk about blue light, there’s been an increase in blue light eliminating products into the market. You can get blue light filtering glasses, and I even saw a kid’s multivitamin claiming to reduce the effects of blue light for kids.
What is Blue Light?
Blue light is one of many on the spectrum of light. It sits in between the non-visible and visible light. Visible light is beneficial to our eyes and is made of an array of colours, which we can see. Non-visible light, consisting mainly of UV light, is considered harmful to our eyes. Blue light sits on the fence of these two, which is why there is so much talk about it.
Where Does Blue Light Come From?
Blue light occurs naturally in our environment from the sun and helps regulate our circadian rhythm(1). Did you know the sky looks blue because of blue light?(2). Blue light exists artificially in many digital devices like smart phones, tablets and LED or florescent lighting. It is all around us, all the time.
Is Blue Light Bad for Our Eyes?
Yes and no. Natural blue light is beneficial. It helps tell our body when to wake and sleep. It can boost our moods and increase our alertness. These are all good things during the day, when we need to be awake(3).
Artificially made blue light has the same effect on us as naturally occurring blue light, however unlike the setting sun, we can get blue light exposure anytime of the day from digital devices like our smart phone, tablets, TV, LED and fluorescent lighting.
Blue light exposure at night-time can trick our brains into thinking it is daytime. This can lead to increased alertness at night, which can lead to trouble falling asleep(4).
Blue Light Blockers
The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO), has just released their stance on blue light filters glasses and blue light. They say that “there is little to no evidence blue light blocking spectacles improve visual performance or protect macular health, however screen-emitted blue light may interrupt circadian rhythms.”(5)
They go on to say that blue light itself in everyday use isn’t appearing to be harmful to our eyes. RANZCO suggested that people should be reducing their screen time in the evenings and before bed and that regular breaks should be taken when using such devices.
What Does It All Mean?
When it comes to blue light, we should be focussing on our time on devices more than the emitted blue light itself. Blue light isn’t necessarily damaging our eyes; however, it is keeping us up late at night and making us alert. When it comes to blue light filter glasses; they aren’t hurting our kid’s eyes and if they have a positive impact on your daily life, then using them is by no means unnecessary. There are a bucket load of places that sell blue light blocking glasses – even Officeworks sells them! And if you wear prescription glasses, you can get lenses that block blue light.
We need to remember to take good care of our eyes and teach our kids proper eye care. The 20-20-20 rule says we should take a 20 second break, every 20 minutes and focus our eyes on something 20 m away. We also need to make sure we drink enough water, get enough sleep and eat healthy foods. Having regular eye check ups are a great way to take care of your eyes too.
For more information on eating your way to healthy happy eyes for kids, check out this story.
To find out how much screen time is recommended for kids, check out this story.