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Can we be blinded by blue light?

It’s the end of the day, a day that I have spent in the office, working on the computer. My eyes are tired, but they have been tired since around lunch time.

With people spending more and more time in front of screens of computers, smartphones, tablets, TVs eye strain and similar eye problems are becoming more prevalent, so my tired eyes are pretty much a sign of the times.

Staring at digital devices for extended periods is now one of the most common causes of eye strain, and results in uncomfortable symptoms such as dry or irritated eyes, difficulty focusing and blurred or double vision.

A letter put out by Harvard Health states that exposure to blue light at night, emitted by electronics and energy-efficient lightbulbs is harmful to your eyes and overall health, and it is estimated that, in the workplace, one in five Australians suffer from a condition known as Computer Vision Syndrome.

Our eye’s natural lens is not designed for exposure to artificial blue light emitted from digital devices. When you’re looking at computer screens and other digital devices that emit significant amounts of blue light, this unfocused visual will put the strain on the muscle that helps the eye to focus. Unnecessary exposure to blue light can have adverse effects on our eye health, leading to side effects such as, dry eyes, fatigue, blurred vision, neck and back pain, headaches and the cumulative effects may increase the risk of damage to the retina.

Blue light is ever-present in the environment – both outdoors and indoors. It is naturally produced by the sun, dispensed from fluorescent light bulbs and emitted by LEDs present in digital devices such as computer screens, tablets and smartphones.


Blue wavelengths—which are beneficial during daylight hours because they boost attention, reaction times, and mood—seem to be the most disruptive at night. And the proliferation of electronics with screens, as well as energy-efficient lighting, is increasing our exposure to blue wavelengths, especially after sundown.

At night, light upsets the body’s biological clock—the circadian rhythm—out of whack and sleep suffers. Worse, research shows that it may contribute to the causation of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.Even dim light can interfere with a person’s circadian rhythm and melatonin secretion. Light at night is part of the reason so many people don’t get enough sleep, and researchers have linked short sleep to increased risk for depression, as well as diabetes and cardiovascular problems.

While light of any kind can suppress the secretion of melatonin, blue light at night does so more powerfully.

In another study of blue light, researchers at the University of Toronto compared the melatonin levels of people exposed to bright indoor light who were wearing blue-light–blocking goggles to people exposed to regular dim light without wearing goggles. The fact that the levels of the hormone were about the same in the two groups strengthens the hypothesis that blue light is a potent suppressor of melatonin. It also suggests that shift workers and night owls could perhaps protect themselves if they wore eyewear that blocks blue light.

There is no doubt, with the information obtained from these and other studies, that blue light can be detrimental to our eyes and overall health. What may seem a small problem to begin with – eye strain – can lead to bigger problems, or contribute to them.

There are many things we can do to reduce our risk of eye strain –

The distance between your eyes and the computer monitor should be between 50-100cm, and the screens should be set up below eye level.

If your device allows, set a default text size that is comfortable to your eyes and adjust the monitor brightness so that you aren’t affected by screen glare – or get a low-reflective or matte screen.

Take a break – this is one of the most important things you can do. The staff at Business Insider are recommended to adhere to the 20-20-10 rule – give your eyes a break from the screen every 20 minutes for at least 20 seconds by looking at something 10 metres away.

Block blue light both in the work place and at home.

With blue light emitting technology overtaking our lives, it is more important now than ever before to find a way of blocking that harmful light. The solution can come in the form of blue light blocking glasses.

EXYRA lenses are precision-engineered to reflect and absorb high energy blue light, and UV light, while still allowing blue-turquoise light to enter. Basically, it means that it enhances proper colour perception and wakefulness. In addition, these lenses are fitted with an anti-fatigue, anti-glare, and anti-scratch coating that will allow you to work for longer hours, without any problems. It should also be noted that the anti-fatigue coating of the EXYRA lenses increases magnification, reducing the amount of work your eyes have to do.

The EXYRA eyewear is designed to be worn both indoors and outdoors, offering UV A/B protection and antireflective benefits for the wearer as well as being fashionable and good looking accessories.

EXYRA customers have the option of upgrading their lenses to include greater magnification, allowing the wearer to accommodate varying degrees of contrast without the need for excessive focussing effort

Available from $98, the EXYRA range is available in 6 styles across 14 different colours and patterns, and comes with free shipping Australia-wide and a 30-day money back guarantee.

by Carol Sheridan