Blue Light Associated with Sleeping and Vision Problems

Blue Light Associated with Sleep Problems and Diseases.

As technology evolves, people grow more accustomed to a digital lifestyle—one that includes blue light exposure from devices such as smartphones, tablets, LED monitors and flatscreen TVs. Blue light can affect your vision and health.

"Blue light is something we're getting exponentially more exposed to because of our transition to a digital lifestyle," says David Friess, O.D., a Philadelphia-based research consultant. "Digital reading is not something we were designed to do." 
Ready or not, blue light is a reality. According to AOA's 2015 American Eye-Q® survey, 62 percent of respondents spend five or more hours on their digital devices every day, and 14 percent spend at least 10 hours a day on their devices.

Zzzs and disease
Two recent studies associate blue light exposure with sleep problems.

A 2014 study in the journal Photochemistry and Photobiology found that just a week of increased exposure to blue light before bed cut sleep time by an average of 14 minutes. And it's not just blue light in ambient lighting. Reading on blue-lit e-reading devices before bed "prolongs the time it takes to fall asleep, delays the circadian clock, suppresses levels of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin, reduces the amount and delays the timing of REM sleep, and reduces alertness the following morning," according to a January 2015 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It also found that reading on such devices, unsurprisingly, increases alertness and delays bedtime without changing when people wake in the morning.

For years, researchers have studied the association between dysfunctional sleep-wake cycles and other health problems, such as diabetes and some forms of cancer.

More blue light, more problems
All this is leading to an increase in the amount of eye strain eye care professionals are reporting.  In terms of research, a July 2015 study in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine found that the more chronic the exposure to blue-light-producing LED lights, the more free radicals in the eye, which further analysis associated with retinal injury. This may contribute to aging of the eye and age-related vision problems in younger patient groups. That's all the more reason manufacturers are creating new products—such as screen covers for filtering blue light, as well as contact lenses and eye glass lenses embedded with blue-wave-filtering pigment—in response.