How Does Blue Light Filtering Work?

Spending too much time on your screens can result in health issues that can impact your life. In this feature, we’re going to explore more about blue light, why it can be harmful to your eyes and the things you can do to prevent the damage from blue light exposure.

Blue light is radiating off the laptop screen.

What is Blue Light?

Light is composed of electromagnetic particles that travel in waves emitting energy. These waves vary in both their length and strength, with the rule being the shorter the wavelength, the higher the energy emitted. Measured in nanometers (nm), these waves can fall into several groups including infrared light, radio waves, visible light, ultraviolet waves, x-rays and gamma rays. Each of these categories makes up the electromagnetic spectrum.

Human eyes are only sensitive to one group of waves, known as visible light. These waves appear as the colours of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.

Blue light, found both naturally and artificially, consists of a short wavelength, therefore, radiating higher amounts of energy. Natural sources include sun light. Additionally, blue wavelengths hit the air molecules and cause the sky to appear blue. In its natural form, we use blue light to regulate natural sleep patterns (known as a circadian rhythm). Natural blue light can help to keep us alert, boost our mood or increase feelings of wellbeing.

Artificial sources of blue light include all digital screens from electronic devices and LED lighting. Studies suggest that exposure to artificial blue light, over the long-term, can cause serious damage to your eyes.

Rainbow lights on a man’s eye. Why is Blue Light Harmful?

Because blue light is one of the shortest and highest energy wavelengths in the visible spectrum, known as High Energy Visible (HEV), they tend to flicker more than the longer and weaker wavelengths. This flickering can then create a glare off the screen. These two reactions can result in eyestrain, headaches and mental fatigue if an individual is exposed to screens for long periods. Studies have even linked high screen exposure times to a host of physical, psychological and emotional health disorders including sleep disorders, eye problems and also increased risks of cancer and diabetes.

Our eyes cannot naturally filter out the blue light rays to protect us from retinal damage or macular degeneration. Unfortunately, most of today’s technology relies on LED backlight technology to provide clear and sharp screen experiences, and our eyes are not built to protect us from the intense blue light waves that radiate off them. Our beloved devices produce blue light at higher levels than that emitted from the sun, emitting around 35% of blue light compared to the sun’s 25% to 30% blue light emissions throughout the day.

Did you know that spending just two hours in front of a screen can cause eyestrain and fatigue?

Black and white photo of a girl covering her eyes. Protecting Yourself from Blue Light

Don’t go throwing away your devices just yet; there are simple ways to protect yourself from blue light waves and still enjoy your beloved gadgets.

From rearranging your workstation (and its lighting) to ensuring you know the latest rules in eye care, you can take control of your eye protection.

One essential way of guarding your eyes against damage is through blue light filtering. This type of protection is usually standard in device settings, or you can install a program if your device does not have it in-built. These work by reducing the emission of blue light by changing the colours displayed on your digital screen, usually applying a ‘yellow’ or ‘white’ wash over your display.

We would also recommend looking toward anti-glare screen protectors that can reduce the amount of glare coming off your screen. This will reduce eye strain that can lead to further complications down-the-line. We would also encourage you to follow the safety tips in our eye care feature to ensure best practices are implemented in your day-to-day routine with devices.

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