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Harvard Health Blog
Will blue light from electronic devices increase my risk of macular degeneration and blindness?
- By David Ramsey, MD, PhD, MPH, Contributor
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
Can potential blue light harm be mitigated by special coatings on glasses and contact lenses?
Blue light from electronic devices, as well as higher efficiency indoor lighting and oncoming LED car headlights creates stress on our visual system, over accommodation up close, disrupts sleep cycles, and is generally not comfortable to look at. As of yet, we don’t have a direct link from the use of electronic devices to macular health, BUT, given the other vision and sleep issues, it just makes good common sense to filter it. Fortunately, there are a number of products on the market that will help, including lenses with Melanin pigment which aggressively filter the target wavelengths, while providing a “Melanin Color Spectrum” -which appears very natural to the wearer. The screen apps are very ineffective at addressing the issue and distort color. Turning off devices an hour before bed is best, and using incandescent lighting to read is also a good idea. Children should be FORCED to wear eyewear that filters blue light, as there is a possible link to increased rates of myopia, from the over accommodation induced by blue light.
My mistake the guidelines were from the APA American Psychological Association. Here is a link http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/digital-guidelines
The AAP American Academy of Pediatrics has similar guidelines https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/American-Academy-of-Pediatrics-Announces-New-Recommendations-for-Childrens-Media-Use.aspx
I’m having trouble finding the AAO American Academy of Ophthalmology guidelines, but they are very similar.
Besides, Macular Degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in adults over 50. So why take a chance on the unknown.
Dr Ramsey, I would like to know your medical specialty? Having sold OCT retina scanners for the past 6 years, speaking with many retina specialist, who all seem to believe there will be a large increase in AMD in younger people by the year 2030. Do to the effects of Blue Light and that parents let very your developing eyes, with short arms hold devices for extended periods of time. As a matter of fact the recently published AOA guidelines on infants and these devices was no use before the age of 2 and less than 1 hour per day up to the age of 5.
All information on this article is theorical. Do you have any empiric prove to demostrate the harmless in the eyesight when people use electronic devices?
Doesn’t the term nanometers refer to wave length rather than frequency? Of course, there is a relationship between the two.
Yes, Arturo, nanometers is a measure of wavelength, not frequency. Hopefully the author will see these comments and correct that mistake.
Frequency in Hz is equal to the speed of light (c) in meters/sec divided by the wavelength in meters:
Frequency (Hz) = Speed of light (m/s) / Wavelength (m)
Anyone concerned about this issue (like the guys commenting) can block blue light from their computer, using a program called f.lux, or similar. This Harvard article is interesting because I have heard different. Even an article on HP’s site is cautious about blue light. And they manufacture computers! It isn’t even in their commercial interest to publish such articles. But thanks Harvard for providing balance. I’ll continue to use f.lux as a precaution. Blue light is a relatively modern phenomena (in terms of sheer quantity). There are no long term studies. Certainly, as a minimum, block blue light before bed so as to not disrupt sleep.
Your article ends by stating that blue light has the effect of keeping you awake. Yet my Kindle device has a button which creates a “blue shade” on the screen, which is intended to promote sleep.
Which is correct?
What about these new headlights on cars and trucks that blind you
How can anyone unequivocally say that blue light from screens has no harmful effect on the eye when there have been no long term studies on the issue? Just because a study shows that there were no harmful effects after one or two weeks doesn’t mean there would be no harmful effects over years and years of exposure. Smoking one cigarette doesn’t cause cancer.
SIR/MADAM can you please tell useing laptop will affect eyesite or not
So disrupting sleep would not have any deleterious effect on retinal “regeneration “?
Why do so many 20 year olds ( non-smokers) in the USA have drusen ( beginning macular degeneration) whereas 30 year olds not so much?
(Reading Dr. Ramsey’s article)
“The bottom line
Blue light from electronic devices is not going to increase the risk of macular degeneration or harm any other part of the eye. “
Thank you for this clarification and the other useful information and reminders for preserving our precious eyesight.
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