Blue Light From Screens Could Impact Sleep
Friday, February 17, 2023
With the rise in digital device use, more people are expressing concern about exposure to blue light.
While blue light is around us daily as part of sunlight, artificial sources of blue light from device screens are often adding hours of exposure after dusk. Experts recommend heavy users take periodic breaks from device screens by using the 20-20-20 rule, which is a 20-second break, every 20 minutes to look at something 20 feet away.
Dr. Bryce St. Clair, instructor in the Department of Ophthalmology at Johns Hopkins University, said the concern over blue light is exaggerated, but it can affect sleep in some people.
"Blue light, we know will signal your brain to stay more stimulated," St. Clair pointed out. "Some people will say when they are on a phone or on a laptop before bed, that they stay awake longer than usual. And we know there's evidence to suggest that it affects circadian rhythms mildly."
He added people who experience difficulty falling asleep should use the blue light blocker or night mode on their devices.
Some people experience symptoms of eye strain with long periods of screen time. St. Clair explained with device use there is some evidence of reduced blinking.
"There's anecdotal evidence to suggest that if you are somehow involved with blue light devices, that you blink less often than those who don't use blue light devices," St. Clair noted.
He used the example of a physical book, emphasizing readers will blink significantly more often compared to those reading on a device, which may cause irritation for people who already have dry eyes.
St. Clair stressed ultraviolet radiation from the sun is a primary concern. He advised the single best thing you can do for your eyes is to wear sunglasses outdoors.
"Why are sunglasses fantastic? One, anytime you're squinting because it's too bright outside. That is your eye's way of telling you that's too much light. Number two, it prevents UV radiation and UV damage to the lens of your eye which can cause cataracts, to the retina which can cause macular degeneration," St. Clair outlined.
He also stated sunglasses help protect the eyelids against skin cancer. He recommended polarized sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection.
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