The Dark Side of Blue Light: Long-Term Damage Could Lead to Vision Loss and Cataracts

blue light dangersToday, blue light is all around us. Many conventional computer monitors don’t use a strong blue light, but it’s becoming common in several other ways. It’s part of the display in most mobile devices, and common in flat-screen televisions and other ultra-large displays.

What most people don’t realize, however, is that blue light can be hazardous to eye health.

Blue light – also known as high-energy visible (HEV) light – has an especially short wavelength compared to other forms of light. As a result, it penetrates more deeply into the structures of the eye. This contributes to a wide variety of health problems and can cause permanent vision loss.

Blue Light Dangers: Understanding the Risks of Blue Light Exposure

In recent years, Americans have significantly increased their consumption of digital media. A recent study showed people in the U.S. devote more than 10-and-a-half hours to consumption of media every day – and much of that is spent looking at screens.

More people are reporting signs of digital eye strain:

  • Pain and discomfort in the eyes;
  • Dryness or itchiness of the eyes;
  • Headache, neck or shoulder pain;
  • Blurred vision.

Digital eye strain can be very uncomfortable, but it’s only the beginning when it comes to blue light. Too much blue light contributes to chronic eye problems and can accelerate the onset of the most serious age-related vision disorders. Thanks to its properties, cellular damage sustained as a result of blue light exposure can be severe and lasting, destroying the eye from within.

Some major eye problems associated with blue light include:

Retina Damage

The retina is the light-sensitive layer located at the back of the eye. Retina damage can lead to blurred vision, inability to see in low light or painful sensitivity to normal light levels. Damage may occur slowly over time, so comprehensive eye exams are essential.

Age-Related Disorders like Macular Degeneration and Cataracts

In macular degeneration, victims suffer gradual, irreversible loss of visual acuity in the center of their visual field. Cataracts are a clouding of the eye’s lens that can lead to total vision loss. Sometimes, the clouded lens can be artificially replaced.

Melatonin Disruption

Melatonin is an important hormone that regulates the sleep cycle. It is naturally released as the environment darkens, with its concentration peaking late at night. Blue light exposure suppresses melatonin production, disrupting sleep even after you go to bed.