Screens, Eye Strain and Sleep

Screens, Eye Strain and Sleep

Posted under Eye Health, Low Vision Info, The Eye

Today’s electronic screens from flat TVs to tablets to smart phones all emit blue light.   Light, and especially blue light contributes to eye strain, the development of macular degeneration and to sleep disturbances.


Sleep Disturbances

According to Harvard Medical School’s  Health Publications, “ …not all colors of light have the same effect.  Blue wavelengths … seem to be the most disruptive at night.  And the proliferation of electronics with screens, as well as energy-efficient lighting, is increasing our exposure to blue wavelengths, especially after sundown.”  The reason for sleep interference by blue light is explained by author and researcher Richard Hansler in his book, “Great Sleep! Reduced Cancer!: A Scientific Approach to Great Sleep.”  In his book he provides all of the scientific studies and evidence of how blue light is responsible for melatonin suppression which in turn interferes with our ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.  When I was experiencing my own problems falling asleep, I began to make changes in my evening routine.  Turning off the computer early in the evening helps me to relax and unwind as well as reduce blue light exposure. Wearing blue light blocking glasses at night is another way to prevent melatonin suppression resulting from screen use.


Eye Strain

Increasing numbers of patients are complaining about eye strain, eye fatigue and dry eyes.  According to The Vision Council, “…more than six in 10 adults spend five or more hours on digital devices each day.”  Many of them are experiencing what is called digital eye strain due to close up screen viewing.  Studies have also shown that people blink less often when staring at a screen. This alone leads to dry or burning eyes.  Remember to blink more often and to blink longer.  Another tip recommended by many eye specialists is the 20-20-20 rule.  It simply means that every 20 minutes, one should take a break from their screen, and for 20 seconds focus on something that is 20 feet away.


Macular Degeneration

Many eye health professionals are concerned about the increased risk of macular degeneration from hours of screen use. “Prolonged use of devices that emit blue and violet light can be harmful to the long term health of your eyes. The exposure to this blue light, excessive exposure, can damage the cells of the macula, “ according to Dr. Judson Briggs, President of the Georgia Optometric Association.  Ronald Melton, OD explains it this way.  “Blue light, which is part of the visible light spectrum reaches deeper into the eye and its cumulative effect can damage the retina.”

At my most recent eye exam I explained to my eye doctors the eye strain I was experiencing due to my many hours on the computer.   When asked if they offered a blue light blocking filter for my prescription glasses, they suggested BluTech Lenses.  The blue light filter helps to prevent eye strain and helps to protect my macula.


Leslie Degner, RN, BSN