Digital eye strain: The impact of blue light on your eyes

Published: May. 5, 2017 at 5:29 PM EDT
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Many of us are spending hours looking at screens, whether it's the one at your desk at work or on the one that fits in your hand. From toddlers to adults, we are overly exposed to blue light, which falls within the visible part of the color spectrum and it can penetrate deep into your eyes, eventually leading to vision problems.

Dr. Linnea Robbins-Winters is an optometrist at Eye Care Associates of Michiana. She has practiced for 25 years in Michiana and specializes in breakthrough lens products.

Robbins-Winters regularly screens patients to check how digital devices affect their vision. She said blue light comes directly from those devices and the environment.

"We know that the exposure is happening at a much younger age," Robbins-Winters said. "Naturally you're going to have exposure to blue light, whether you're in a room with florescent lights or whether you're outdoors in natural lighting."

Blue light impact is a newer phenomena, leading to digital eye strain and symptoms like fatigue, dry eyes and sensitivity to glare.

"The eye naturally is not set up to filter blue light well and so we want to do what we can to beef up or strengthen the eye's ability to filter and protect," Robbins-Winters said.

Special lenses offer that protection, relaxing your eyes when you look at screens. They can be put into almost any frame and worn all the time.

"A lot of people when they're on the computer too long, they'll look up and their distance vision will be blurry," Robbins-Winters said. "They're like 'Why is this blurry?' and then five minutes later it's cleared up again. It's because they've been focusing so intensely that they've locked up their accommodative mechanism."

Dr. Robbins-Winters suggests that if you do a lot of work on the computer at work to follow the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, take a 20 second break and focus on something 20 feet away that's not a screen. But, cutting back device time to less than two hours a day is key.

"When someone asks you how many hours a day are you on the computer? Really take time to add that up," Robbin-Winters said. "I think everyone would be surprised."

She recommends you have a conversation with your eye doctor next time you visit to determine what's best for you to protect your eyes. The people who need to be extra careful are those who have a family history of Macular Degeneration.

You can also take daily supplements with 10 mg of Lutein and 2 mg of Zeaxanthin.

For more information on blue light and digital, please go to the Vision Council's website: