A New Zealand optometrist has warned that the ‘blue light’ emitted from smartphones, tablets and computers could be putting users at risk of early onset macular degeneration.
Optometrist Brian Naylor, of Visique Naylor Palmer from Palmerston North on NZ’s north island, said close proximity to the light, which is emitted from LED screens, makes the risk of damage worse.
He said the blue light damage was of growing concern as people spent more time on digital devices while working and studying, and children were exposed at an early age to screens.
“Recent figures show that a typical multiscreen user… is clocking up just under seven hours of screen time daily, which includes laptops, TV and smartphones,” Mr. Naylor said.
The effects of blue light are believed to be cumulative, and computers are the worst culprits, closely followed by tablets and smartphones
“All of these emit significant amounts of blue-violet light, which is the highest energy wavelength of visible light, and because of that can penetrate through the eyes’ natural filters, all the way to the back of the eye.”
The effects of blue light are believed to be cumulative, and computers are the worst culprits, closely followed by tablets and smartphones.
“Over-exposure to blue light can cause headaches, dry eyes, and difficulty sleeping in the short term, and there are potential longer-term effects that we are also worried about.”
Mr. Naylor said, in particular, blue-violet light was a proven risk factor of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), along with genetic factors, smoking and diet.
He recommended that those who spent long periods of time on computers, tablets and smartphones, think about protection, including lenses specially designed to help filter blue light. Reducing time spent on devices wherever possible would also help, especially at night.
“It’s important to give your eyes a rest from screens so the blue light doesn’t interrupt your sleep patterns and you get a healthy, restorative rest.
“Currently, AMD is the leading cause of visual impairment in the Western world, and it could be getting worse due to these devices.
“If you wear glasses, there are lenses specially designed to help filter blue light. They let in the good blue-turquoise light that helps regulate your sleep cycle and keeps your pupillary reflex healthy, but keep out virtually all UV and blue-violet light.”
For those without prescription glasses, it was becoming increasingly common overseas for people who have blue light exposure for hours every day to wear blue-light blocking clear lenses in order to reduce eye fatigue and protect them from damage.