During the pandemic time spent near screens has risen significantly across the world.
The data show that we are not sure about the negative effects on our health and the steps we can take to protect ourselves.
Most of us know that sunlight contains visible light rays as well as invisible ultraviolet (UV) rays. But visible light includes a series of rays of different colors, each of which carries different amounts of energy.
“Blue light is one of the visible parts of the electromagnetic spectrum so it is one of the colors we can see,” says Romesh Angunawela. “It has a shorter wavelength than any other visible color. It is close to UV, which is even shorter, but it is not visible to us.
Blue light is emitted by fluorescent lamps and LED devices such as computers, smartphones, TVs and tablets.
“Electronic devices tend to emit more light in that spectrum than natural light,” says Angunawela. This, plus the time we spend on our devices and their proximity to our faces, has health professionals worried about the possible consequences.
Since blue light has the shortest wavelengths and the highest frequencies, it is more prone to scatter, causing turbulence.
“So if you spend a lot of time on a screen, you tend to get something called screen fatigue,” says Angunawela. “Your eyes are trying to focus, which can make them tired. “When you look at a screen, your eyes dry out because the rate of eye closure drops by half more than when you talk face to face.”
Just as UV light can affect our skin, so does blue light. A 2010 study compared the effects of both types of light on the skin and while skin exposed to blue light showed no signs of cancer growth, it showed more dark spots, called hyperpigmentation.
Another lab-based study found that just one hour of screen exposure was enough to increase the production of free radicals, which can contribute to hyperpigmentation and skin aging. As with eye health, more research is needed to determine the extent of the effects.
You may feel a sense of guilt when checking your smartphone in bed – we all know that appliances should be kept away from the bedroom.
“There is clear evidence that exposure to blue light can affect sleep patterns and circadian rhythms,” concludes Angunawela. / express