I'm "Seeing" the Blues

Look out everyone! There is something else we need to be careful about when it comes to our eyes.  Most people know that Ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun can be harmful to our skin and eyes. That is why it is important to wear sunscreen and sunglasses. These actions help us prevent skin cancers, cataracts and other eye diseases. However, there is a new culprit in town, and it is UV’s next door neighbor - Blue! Blue light is actually part of the visible spectrum (we can see it), and it has shown to have damaging effects on the eyes. Where are these harmful blues you ask? They are all around us!  LED screens from smart phones, tablets, TVs and computer screens all emit this blue light energy, and studies have shown that this blue light energy can damage retinal cells in the back of your eyes. This damage could lead to macular degeneration and other eye-related conditions.  Now, I know this sounds scary, but not all blue light is bad. We actually need some blue light, as it helps regulate our sleep and wake cycle. That’s the simple reason the sky is blue during the day. Blue light also boosts alertness and cognitive function. The natural form of blue light, emitted from the sky, is not as bad for you as it is necessary for our bodies. It is the artificial blue light from our digital lifestyle that can cause long-term damage to our eyes.  In the short-term, blue light from these devices can cause eye strain and fatigue, making your eyes feels exhausted and dry by the end of the day. So what are we to do when our world revolves around these LED screens? I tell my patients to take breaks in front of the computer as much as they can during the day and make sure they remember to blink their eyes. It doesn’t hurt to have artificial tears like Systane Ultra or Refresh Optive at your desk, so your eyes don’t get too dried out from all the computer work. I also recommend limiting the use of screen time before bed. I know this is hard to do as most of us like to play on our phones or tablet before we say goodnight. However if you can limit these activities, you may notice that you have better sleep quality throughout the night and you are likely to feel more alert and productive the next day. There is also lens technology for your glasses that helps with blue light filters, so be sure to ask me about it during your next visit!

Make your appointment to see Dr. Patel!