• Eye protection in the digital age

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    What is blue light?

    Blue light represents the high-energy part of the visible light spectrum (the one that allows us to see colours), with a wavelength between 380 and 500 nm. It is also known as “high-energy visible light” (HEV light). It is particularly harmful between 390 and 470 nm (blue-violet light), while between 470 and 500 nm (blue-turquoise light) it regulates the sleep-wake cycle.

    Blue light sources

    In addition to solar radiation, there are several artificial blue light sources such as new LED lamps and fluorescent lighting designed to save money and improve our lives, but emit a higher amount of blue light than traditional light bulbs, or such as computer screens, tablets and smartphones. Therefore our eyes are increasingly exposed to blue light, with negative consequences for our health.

    Difference between blue and ultraviolet light

    The light reaching the human eye is divided into a visible spectrum (between 380 nm and 780 nm) and a non-visible spectrum (which includes UV rays and INFRARED rays). UV rays are absorbed by the cornea and crystalline lens, while blue light penetrates the crystalline lens and reaches the retina. Over time, both can cause damage, even permanently, to the eyes.

    Blue light and its effects on the eye

    Blue light can be harmful to the eye. It increases the risk of retinal and ocular surface issues. It is a known fact that prolonged exposure to outdoor radiation (to both visible and non-visible light) can cause cumulative damage to both the front and rear ocular tissue. Blue light is a source of oxidative stress on retinal pigmentation, it inhibits the secretion of melatonin (altering the normal sleep-wake rhythm) and causes eye strain. Blue light represents a risk factor associated with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), but recently it has been discovered that it can also have negative effects on the ocular surface, as it causes oxidative damage, shown by increased dryness and inflammation. The increase in digital technology has therefore resulted in a significant increase in exposure to blue light. Many patients suffer from eye discomfort after prolonged use of digital devices (more than two hours continuously). This condition is known as Digital Eye Strain.

    Blue light and children

    A total of 76.5% of children spend more than two hours a day in front of a screen. After more than two hours of exposure the following may occur: headache, neck/shoulder pain, irritated and red eyes, irritability. A total of 78.3% of parents are aware of the impact of digital devices on their children, but less than 30% subjects them to periodic vision tests and generally only in conjunction with the return to school.

    How to protect your eyes from blue light

    Glasses with anti-reflective lenses able to filter harmful blue light are available on the market. They let all the ‘beneficial’ light pass by preserving a transparent vision. This technology can also minimise the negative effects of blue light on the sleep-wake cycle, promoting better sleep. These high-selectivity lenses may help prevent the onset of premature AMD in patients and perhaps other diseases. They can be incorporated into any kind of frame, so that everyone can choose their own personal look. There are eye drops containing chemical filters (crocin) that selectively absorb blue light, counteracting its harmful effects. The use of these eye drops should also enable control over ocular signs and symptoms associated with the use of technological devices, such as redness, irritation, burning eyes and the feeling of something in the eye. Crocin-based eye drops can also be used on contact lenses.

    • After 20 minutes of continuous use of a digital device, look at a distant object for 20 seconds.
    • Regularly visit your ophthalmologist and have your children visit as well.
    • Avoid using digital devices for at least two hours before sleeping.

    FOR MORE INFORMATION, ESPECIALLY IF YOU USE DIGITAL DEVICES FOR A LONG TIME THROUGHOUT THE DAY, PLEASE REFER TO YOUR OPHTHALMOLOGIST

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