Is there too much blue light in our digital world?

Blue light

– a new challenge in the digital world

Light plays a vital role in your vision and throughout all facets of your life. For thousands of years, human beings relied primarily on a single light source: the sun. Natural sunlight has a significant effect on a person's body, psyche, health and general sense of well-being. But now artificial light sources are playing an increasingly larger role in our daily lives. Rooms are brightly lit even during the day, and we look almost constantly at all sorts of digital screens. From LED and halogen lamps to tablets, smartphones, TVs and the like, all of these light sources have one thing in common: they emit large quantities of blue light. What are the facts about blue light in the digital world? And what do we know about how it affects us?

Blue light and our vision

Smartphones, computers, tablets, flat screen TVs and the new smart watches – all of the screens on these devices change how light affects us because, just like fluorescent lamps, LEDs and energy-saving light bulbs, they all emit strong blue light. This means that we are subjected to blue light virtually all of the time – during the day, in the evening and at night. What are the consequences?

The fact is that blue light reaches the retina at the back of the eye, and scientific studies and laboratory analysis have shown that too much blue light can damage the retina. In a worst-case scenario, blue light can even lead to macular degeneration and permanent vision loss. However, further scientific study is required to provide more information on how much blue light is required to damage our eyes and to determine limits to or at least recommended levels of blue light exposure.

Having trouble sleeping because of your mobile phone or laptop?

Light helps regulate your body's internal clock and thus has a proven effect on a person's sleep-wake cycle. Blue light in the early evening tells your body to stay awake for longer, whereas light in the early morning lets you know that it is time to wake up. The hormone melatonin plays a central role in this process. During the day there is only a small quantity of melatonin in the body. When intense blue light hits the eye, it directly affects the production and disbursement of melatonin, which is generally accepted to be a sleep hormone.
When exposed to blue light, special receptors in the eye communicate that less melatonin should be released, keeping you alert and awake. Reduced levels of blue light in the evening means more melatonin is released, causing you to feel tired and fall asleep.

What can you do to limit the effects of too much blue light?

When you look at the screen on your computer or other digital device, you subject your eyes to large quantities of blue light, causing, amongst other things, reduced contrast sensitivity. Focusing on a screen can also be strenuous for you and your eyes, contributing to digital eye strain or computer vision syndrome.

Eyeglass lenses can help protect your eyes against blue light thanks to a special filter, making it easier to work at the computer screen or use digital devices.

5 tips for dealing with blue light

Take a moment to look off into the distance regularly

1. Take a moment to look off into the distance regularly – in particular when working at the computer or when using a tablet or smartphone frequently.
 

5 tips for dealing with blue light

Blue light controls our biorhythm.

2. Blue light controls our biorhythms. Studies show that blue light in particular is very important for regulating the melatonin level in the human body and thus for controlling a person's sleep/wake cycle and well-being. That's why you should consult your eye doctor on how to best filter out blue light.

5 tips for dealing with blue light

Too much blue light (e.g. when reading on your tablet) and bright artificial light in the evening are not advisable

3. Too much blue light (such as when reading on your tablet) and bright artificial light in the evening are not advisable because both can cause insomnia. Keep this rule in mind: in the evening, use soft light and avoid very bright light. Try relaxing by candlelight.

5 tips for dealing with blue light

Daylight contains a lot of blue light.

4. Daylight contains a lot of blue light. According to different studies, prolonged exposure to high-energy blue light can damage the retina, increasing the risk of macular degeneration over time. The best solution: sunglass lenses with 100% UVA and UVB protection, or even self-tinting lenses from ZEISS.

5 tips for dealing with blue light

Do you suffer from burning eyes in the evening?

5. Do you suffer from burning eyes in the evening? Do you have head, neck or back pain? Digital eyestrain might be the cause. Have your eyes tested by your ZEISS eye care professional.

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