Blue light from digital devices could be damaging our eyes

Blue light from digital devices could be damaging our eyes

Optometrists say heavy use of digital devices could be causing long-term damage to our eyes, and the blue light they emit could be adding to the problem.

A survey has found that nine in 10 optometrists are concerned about the number of people presenting with eye problems, some as young as five years old.

Nineteen-year-old student Amy Smit got her eyes checked after constantly staring at screens started causing her problems.

"I found that I was getting quite severe headaches from studying and I couldn't really find the cause for them - just constant headaches, three or four days in a row," she said.

Optometrist Bruce Nicholls says he's seeing a lot of patients with similar issues.

"The majority of them are using devices, like phones and tablets and laptops, many hours a day," he said.

The Eyezen survey found the most frequent symptom of excessive device use was dry eyes, closely followed by eyestrain and headaches. Those most affected were in their 30s and 40s, but they're also seeing a lot of teens.

Mr Nicholls says it's not just due to staring too closely at screens for too long, but also the blue light they emit.

"The high-energy blue light is right next door to damaging ultraviolet light on the spectrum. 

"We know UV light is damaging; what we didn't realise is this high-energy blue light can also be damaging, particularly if you're exposed to it for a long period of time," he said.

Just as we have UV filters in our sunglasses, he says we should have blue light filters in our glasses.

Ms Smit says she did not expect the prescription she was given, and is now more aware of the dangers of blue light.

"I had heard some things about blue light - you know, you shouldn't use blue light before bed and that sort of stuff - but no, I'm definitely more aware of it now and the amount of time I do spend on my screen and how it might be affecting my eyes," she said.

Mr Nicholls says there's growing evidence we could develop serious long-term eye conditions if we don't limit our exposure to blue light, through filter apps or protective lenses.