Eye specialists share information on blue light and effects on health

JACKSON, Tenn. — As we spend more time on our cellphones and other electronic devices, we are exposed to blue light more than ever before.

With them, the inevitable blue light is in front of our eyes.

Many of us are always looking at our screens all day long, from your phone to your computer. They all emit what’s called “visible blue light.”

“It tells our body that we are awake, and so if you are looking your screen late in the evening, it can sometimes even affect your ability to sleep at night,” optometrist Dr. Dawn Kamin-Butler said.

A screen might be a fun distraction, but many of those devices expose your eyes to blue light.

Optometrist Dr. Brittany Smith says some of the effects of blue light can include eye fatigue and dry eye.

“Too much on your retina in the back of your eye, it’s been shown that it might possibly lead to some effects in the retina that might cause macular degeneration,” Dr. Smith said.

Dr. Smith says macular degeneration is an eye disease that is typically seen in older patients.

“Their retinas, the layer in the back of the eye that light hits, and sometimes the cells don’t work properly so we get build-up of debris in the eye, and over time the debris in the eye gets too much,” Dr. Smith said. “Some result in bleeding and also cause some atrophy, and if your eye gets atrophy, it can result in some blindness.”

“Mood swings because if your body thinks you’re supposed to be awake, and you are supposed to be calming down to go to sleep, then you’re not sleeping well, then you will have daytime fatigue,” Dr. Kamin-Butler said.

Dr. Kamin-Butler recommends gadget-lovers take breaks for 20 minutes every one to two hours.

“Unplugging an hour or so before you go to bed at night is also a good idea to promote proper sleep,” Dr. Kamin-Butler said. “We all should be aware that blue light does have an effect on our eyes and can cause damage.”

Dr. Smith says not all blue light is bad, in fact some blue light might actually be good for you.

“We need a certain amount of blue light, especially like kids, they need to be exposed to sunlight for some periods of time,” Dr. Smith said. “It can be good to an extent, but you don’t want too much exposure though, that can cause some harmful effects.”

Dr. Kamin-Butler says don’t forget to use a pair of eyeglasses the next time you get behind a screen.

“Prescription glasses do filter out a lot of light,” Dr. Kamin-Butler said. “There are filters for your screens, for your phone, and you need to eat a healthy diet that is rich in green, leafy vegetables because those are the antioxidants that helps to prevent any damage to the macula as we age.”

Both doctors say it’s important to visit your optometrist regularly for eye exams.

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