Relax, this is about a different blue light than those in your rearview mirror when you get caught going 65 in a 30. But if that’s your habit… watch it, buster!
If you’ve done much communicating via Skype or Facetime, you’ve noticed that your face takes on a bluish, ghostly light in front of the screen. Whether illuminated by a laptop or a phone, that blue light is unavoidable because blue is such a versatile background and accent color. Unfortunately, blue light is not your eyes’ friend.
I Wear My Sunglasses at Night
Ultraviolet protection outdoors is a must. That’s why the market is so huge for sunglasses and sunscreen. Overexposure to sunlight can damage the cornea of your eye, because UV rays effect oxidation of the proteins that comprise it. (yes, ‘effect’ in this case is correct, since UV is the cause of oxidation — you could also use ‘affect’ because UV acts directly on the proteins) (you’re welcome)
Free radicals are created, producing photokeratitis, which is basically sunburn of the eyes. Aside from redness, dryness coupled with increased tears, and possible itching, the cornea can become scarred. Continued exposure can lead to cataracts and macular degeneration.
Indoors, you are subjected to short-wavelength blue light. It’s not as malicious as UV from sunlight, but can still put a hurting on your peepers if you don’t take steps.
Eyes Wide Shut
The American Optometric Assn. published a handy UV radiation checklist and advises that you use eyewear with special blue-blocking lenses. If you want to use your outdoor sunglasses to do your computer work, I say go for it. But they also say that the ‘average American’ spends 2.5 hours staring at a computer screen of some sort. Frankly, I think it’s a lot more than that. There’s a reason they call it the Blue Screen of Death. j/k
Enjoy fresh fruit often to treat yourself to naturally sourced antioxidants. Blueberries, for example, are slam full of lutein, Vitamin C and flavonoids. Plus, they’ll help you stay regular. Just a thought.
Life Extension Magazine’s February 2017 issue presents a more in-depth discussion of the debilitating optical effects of overexposure to computer screen produced blue light. ‘Protect Eyes from Computer Blue Light’ counsels the use of natural supplements (such as lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin – all easily found even in grocery stores) and antioxidants (particularly Vitamin C) to guard against free radicals and scarring. Admittedly, Life Extension sells supplements, but they resist the temptation to push their products within this article. I admire that.
Remember to blink while working at your screen, and use some quality lubricating eye drops periodically. Here you’re going to have to pony up a bit of cash, because the cheapest drops will not work. And please don’t try to get around this by making your own saline solution. Please.
Omega-3s and Vitamin E help too, by oiling you up from the inside. Beta-carotene works directly on your retinas (Mom was right when she told you to eat your carrots). Finally, take frequent breaks. Every hour, get up and walk around for 5 minutes to give your eyes a rest.
Care for yourself. Your sight is more precious than gold.