Blue Light

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There have been reports concerning the need to minimize blue light exposure.  The claims indicate that with the increasing prevalence of screen use like computers, tablets, and televisions, it escalates the risk of eye damage from blue light.   To follow along with this, drug manufacturers have started to market products specific to help protect the eyes from the harmful blue light.  (Ocuvite Blue Light, or Lutein Blue, etc.)

Blue light can cause eye strain, fatigue, and headache; a condition that has been described as digital eyestrain or computer vision syndrome.   As people look at screens they have a tendency to blink less promoting eye strain and dry eyes.  Tablets, computers, flat screen TVs, almost all use LED lights and displays which can emit blue light.  Additionally, people can be exposed to blue light from other areas such as from fluorescent and LED lights in homes and offices.  This being said, the majority of people have more exposure to blue light from sunlight than that from electronic screens.  While there has been no proof that blue light exposure causes eye damage, there is some evidence in animal studies that show exposure to some blue light spectrums causes retinal damage.  These animal studies are leading to concerns that blue light may damage the retina in people as well.

Most vitamin eye supplements contain lutein and zeaxanthin as well as vitamin A.  These supplements are generally known to support various aspects of eye health.  Lutein and Zeaxanthin are believed to have antioxidant activity.  Preliminary evidence suggests lutein in conjunction with zeaxanthin and other ingredients may help reduce symptoms of eye strain.  Although there is not enough evidence to recommend these products for this purpose.  Other non-pharmacological strategies that may help to reduce digital eye strain and other effects caused by blue light include:

  1. Avoid sitting to close to screens. The optimal distance may be an arm’s length away.
  2. Increasing the contrast setting on the device screen settings
  3. Wear glasses instead of contacts when sitting for a prolonged time in front of a screen.
  4. Encourage to take a 20-20-20 break
    1. After 20 minutes of viewing look at something at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds
  5. Turn off screens two to three hours prior to bedtime
  6. Remember to blink. 😉
  7. Take “Screen Free Holidays” and give your eyes a good rest. 

It is always good to have an annual vision check to make sure your eyes are at their best.  If you see any vision changes, light sensitivity, or pain that persists, follow up with your healthcare provider to rule out any other potential issues.

Donavan Smith RPh

References: “Supplements for Blue Light” Pharmacist letter January 2019

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