Blue is a short wavelength color in the light spectrum. It is visible to the eye and produces a high amount of energy. Computerized devices, such as your smartphone, emit blue light.

This type of light can be damaging to the eyes, but it is unlikely to cause blindness directly. (Learn More)

Looking at a screen and exposing yourself to blue light before bed can disrupt your sleep. (Learn More)  Being on your smartphone a lot can also lead to eye strain and dry eyes.

There is some evidence that blue light can have harmful effects on your eyes that could  potentially accelerate macular degeneration and therefore blindness, but the risk is considered minimal. (Learn More)

To keep the eyes healthy, cut down on screen time, particularly before bed. (Learn More) You can also reduce eye strain and dry eyes by taking opportunities throughout the day to focus on things other than screens.

While the blue light from your smartphone is probably not going to make you go blind, it is still a good idea to minimize screen time to keep your eyes happy and healthy.

The Impact of Smartphones on Eyesight

smartphone in bed

Despite alarmist headlines that have claimed blue light from a smartphone can lead to blindness, this is unlikely to be true, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) explains.

Blue light is a particular wavelength of light on the vision spectrum that is short and therefore high in energy. It is typically created through artificial means, such as computers, televisions, tablets, and smartphones. It also occurs naturally in the form of sunlight. Screen time increases exposure to blue light.

Blue light is probably not going to make you go blind, but it still impacts your eyes and body.

Exposure to blue light before bed can disrupt your ability to fall asleep and throw off your circadian rhythms. Blue light suppresses your body's production of melatonin, a naturally occurring chemical that acts as a sleep aid. It can therefore make it harder to fall and stay asleep, Harvard Health publishes. Looking at your smartphone before bed can then disrupt your sleep patterns.

Screen time can lead to eye strain and dry eyes. Your eyes can feel gritty and tired after a lot of time spent staring at your smartphone's small screen. Smartphone use can also cause you to blink less often than you should, which can cause dry eyes.

Possible Risks of Blue Light on the Eyes

A study published in Scientific Reports examined the effects of blue light on the molecule retinal and its toxic harm to photoreceptor cells and damage to the retina. These photoreceptor cells do not regenerate after being destroyed. This kind of damage can accelerate macular degeneration, which is one of the top causes of blindness in the world.

While retinal does appear to have toxic effects on the eyes, the study does not offer indisputable proof that blue light and smartphone use will actually speed up or lead to blindness.

The study was run in a lab and not on actual eyes, so the toxicity and potential for blindness from blue light is still not clear, Forbes explains.

Blue light is believed to potentially be harmful to the eyes on at least some level, however. As a result, screen time should be minimized as much as possible to limit risk.

Mitigating Visual Damage From Smartphones

There are several steps you can take to protect your eyes from potential damage from blue light and your smartphone. There are some special sunglasses that are reported to help block blue light and UV (ultraviolet) light from your eyes, but it isn't certain that they actually work.

Try the following to lower your risk and increase eye health:

  • Put your phone down more often. Chances are you use your phone more often than you need to. Make a conscious effort to put it down more.
  • Use the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look at least 20 feet away for a period of 20 seconds. This allows your eyes to rest and recover. It can prevent eye strain related to focusing on a screen.
  • Stay off of your phone at least an hour or two before bed. Blue light and screens before bed can energize you and therefore keep you awake. Putting the phone away before bed can help you to sleep better.
  • Limit light with smartphone features. Many smartphones now have features that help you decrease the amount of blue light they emit. Find out if yours has one of these features and use it.

Talk to your ophthalmologist about your eyes specifically, especially if you are experiencing eye strain or dry eyes. Be sure to mention the amount of screen time you have on a daily basis. Your doctor can offer suggestions for you individually that can increase eye health and mitigate possible damage.

References

No, Blue Light From Your Smart Phone Is Not Blinding You. (August 2018). American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO).

Blue Light Has a Dark Side. (August 2018). Harvard Health.

Blue Light Excited Retinal Intercepts Cellular Signaling. (July 2018). Scientific Reports.

Blue Light Emitted by Smartphones and Laptops Accelerates Blindness by Making a Molecule in Our Eyes Toxic, According to a New Study. (August 2018). Business Insider.

Is Blue Light From Your Smart Phone Harmful to the Eyes? (August 2018). Forbes.