The first time I read an article that painted a picture of how Blue light from smartphone screens are damaging to the eyes and likely to cause blindness, I almost went into panic mode. And that is understandable: my smartphone is my primary screen these days. I am sure that applies to many other people as well. If blue light from digital devices damage the eye, I was in big trouble!
So, I started reading up on the subject. I quickly found that there are tons of websites pushing that same scary narrative. This was serious. Surely, I was going to go blind, and so were you. One university of Toledo study says that prolonged exposure to blue light “triggers poisonous molecules to be generated in the eye’s light-sensitive cells that can cause macular degeneration — an incurable condition that affects the middle part of vision”. Scary stuff.
But among all of that noise about how this light was certain to run all of us blind were a few less scary voices. And they were credible voices.
I found other reports from university researches and medical institutions that pointed out the dangers of blue light but made it clear that it did no such damage to the eye as the louder voices claimed.
Blue Light Primer
Blue light is everywhere, and the sun is the greatest source. It is close to harmful ultra-violet rays, yet it is not all bad as has been painted.
The Real Dangers Of Blue Light?
Being exposed to blue light at night will affect your sleep, as the light works to keep you awake. Exposing your eyes to it for long periods will lead to dryness in your eyes and put a strain on the muscles that help the eye focus.
Adam Gordon, O.D. is a clinical associate professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry. He says that overuse and exposure to blue light may lead to eye strain and focusing problems, but that it does not appear to cause long-term harm, eye disease, or damage to the retina.
How To Take Care Of Your Eyes
I am convinced that blue light does not damage the eyes, as scaremongers will have us believe. A whole industry is being built around the dangers of this light. And companies are trying to sell stuff to you. However, it is clear that too much exposure to it can cause sleeplessness and eye strain. So, yes; there is need for you to make adjustments in how you use your smartphone.
A University of Alabama resource has this to say:
To further maintain comfortable vision while using digital devices, it is important to use the 20/20/20 rule. For every 20 minutes of digital device use, look away for 20 seconds focusing on something 20 feet away. Using artificial tear or lubricant drops may also relieve some symptoms of dryness.Advertisements
There is some early laboratory research using animal models that suggests excessive blue light exposure can damage some sensitive cell layers of the retina. There is no clinical evidence at the present time that links blue light exposure from digital devices to any pathology or disease of the eye.
“Some advertisements from lens manufacturers are misleading consumers to believe that blue light from digital devices will cause serious harm to their eyes,” Gordon said. “Products created to block out blue light minimize eyestrain when using computers and digital devices, but have not been tested or shown to prevent any type of eye disease.”
Macular degeneration and other eye diseases in relation to blue light is the great unknown. The main risk factors for these eye diseases are age, genetic factors, UV light, smoking and poor nutrition more than digital device use.
In conclusion, I am glad to know that blue light from my smartphone is not likely to make me go blind. The greatest danger is eye fatigue, which I avoid by taking regular breaks from my smartphone. I will be fine. You should do the same.
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Way back from the days of EPOC, Symbian, Palm, PocketPC/Windows Mobile, BlackBerry/BB10, webOS, Windows Phone, Firefox, Ubuntu Touch, to Android, iOS, and KaiOS operating systems, founder of MobilityArena, Mister Mobility, has owned a few hundred smartphones and tablets, and counting.