Our evenings are more illuminated than ever with the presence of continuously evolving screens in daily life. From TVs and tablets to laptops and smartphones —our eyes absorb tons of blue light.
Millions of people work at computers for 40+ hours a week. Countless others worry about damaging their eye health by constantly looking at screens. As your local eye doctor in Phoenix, at Eye On Health, we know you have questions.
Is blue light bad for my eyes?
Do blue-light-blocking glasses work, and should I wear them?
How does blue light impact my overall health?
We provide eye care resources you can trust. We know how important your vision is to you and we’re here to provide quality services you can count on.
Let’s answer those specific questions and see what research shows about blue light and your health.
Colors have different wavelengths which uniquely affect our bodies. Blue light is known as beneficial during the day. It stimulates your brain and decreases melatonin, which our body uses to make us sleepy.
At night, we want a steady melatonin release to keep our sleep on track. When we’re exposed to blue light after dark, it suppresses melatonin and can negatively impact our circadian rhythm, or sleep cycle. Our brain relies on this predictable hormone to wind down and prepare for sleep. (We all know that at least 7 hours of sleep positively impacts our overall health!)
If you know you endlessly scroll on your phone before bed every night (hey, no judgment; we totally get it!) and find yourself struggling to fall asleep, blue light may be the culprit.
Growing blue-light research shows interruptions, shifts, or delays in our sleep cycle may contribute to diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. One of the reasons for this is when you’re tired you’re looking for carbs or sugar to increase your energy.
A Harvard University study shows that circadian rhythms later at night increase blood sugar levels — and decrease the hormone that leaves you feeling full. (So not only can your sleep cycle get wonky, but you may feel more hungry, snack late, and spike your blood sugar.)
This causes concern particularly because diabetes is on the rise worldwide. And with it, comes the secondary, vision-threatening complication of diabetic retinopathy. If you’re diabetic or predisposed, it may be worth reconsidering late-night screen time.
The same Harvard study found blue light exposure suppresses melatonin twice as long as a green light. When you’re sleeping less because of nighttime blue light exposure, it can begin to negatively impact your overall health, which could affect your eye health.
We’re not trying to scare you into putting your phone away at 6 pm, or saying “never watch evening TV again!” We’re simply providing information so you can decide what’s best for you. The more you understand, the better choices you can make.
We know that blue light suppresses melatonin and affects our sleep, with a variety of effects over time. So it makes sense that less exposure to blue light in the evening wouldn’t dramatically impact our sleep cycle — other than bringing it back to an earlier, ‘normal’ rhythm.
The not-so-big surprise behind blue light blockers is they do just that! They block the blue light wavelength from entering your eyes. Wearing these glasses can help bring your melatonin production back to its regularly scheduled evening programming.
A University of Toronto study compares melatonin levels in two groups:
Participants wearing blue light blocking glasses and exposed to bright indoor (blue) light
Participants without any glasses and exposed to regular dim light
The results show both groups complete the study with very similar melatonin levels. This research proves blue light blockers allow your body to naturally produce melatonin — as it should — in the evening.
So it’s not a gimmick! Blue light glasses work. Make sure to check the filter level when you choose a pair. Some glasses filter more light specifically to support better sleep, while others aim to prevent eye strain.
Maybe you don’t want to buy blue light blockers, and that’s fine too. You have other options.
Simple ways to protect yourself from blue light (especially at night):
Avoid screen time 2-3 hours before bed.
Get lots of bright light during the day.
Use dim lights at night.
Look for a nighttime filter in your phone app store. This may help reduce blue light if you can’t stand not being on your device. (Hey, we’re being real here!)
At Eye on Health, we take pride in educating our patients with quality research. We want to be a source that you can rely on. There’s a lot of misinformation on blue light glasses, and we want to clear up a big claim right now!
So if you work 40+ hours on a computer every week, your chances of certain eye diseases (like macular degeneration) aren’t going to increase. Research has not directly linked blue light to specific eye diseases.
You might notice blurry vision, headaches, and dry eye, though. Why? Because we blink less when our eyes focus on screens. Using any screen for long periods can cause these symptoms, referred to as computer vision syndrome, or digital eye strain. (Yes, really.)
Remember, research links blue light to sleep issues. It’s easy to brush off slow-moving causes, but we know how negative impacts on your sleep directly affects overall health. It all ties together — and that’s why we care so much!
Eye On Health is more than just a place to get glasses or contacts. Dr. Balocca started his optometry practice to serve the Phoenix community he loves. You truly have the best eye doctor nearby!
He loves establishing relationships with his patients and solving their eye and vision problems. From specific questions on how blue light is affecting your sleep to having your diabetic eye exam — he’s ready to serve your unique needs.
With a full range of eye care services for the whole family, we’re a one-stop-shop for all your vision concerns. No question is too small, and our dedicated eye care professionals are passionate about helping you find what you need.