How long do you spend staring at a screen -- computer, TV, tablet or phone -- every day? According to latest estimates, the average is 11 hours a day. And that's given rise to a new scare about the effects of so-called blue light that bombards your eyes the whole time, unless you take action to protect them.
Blue light, a high-energy part of the full spectrum of visible light we humans can see, plays a positive role by increasing our attention to whatever we're looking at. It can even enhance our mood.
But we all know that having too much of any kind of light hitting our eyeballs at night, especially just before we go to bed, can disrupt our sleep.
However, that's just the start of the troubles it causes. New research says that the blue light element causes a reaction in the retina, killing some cells that never grow back. Scientists say this could lead or contribute to an incurable eye disease known as macular degeneration. Around 2.5 per cent of the population, mostly older folk, currently suffer from the disease, which can eventually lead to blindness. The worry is that the long-term use of electronic devices and even some types of light bulb, could increase this figure and maybe begin to affect younger people.
So, what can you do to beat the blue light peril? Here are some ideas:
- If you wear glasses, use a clip-on blue light filter (cost about $30) or have your eye doctor prescribe lenses that do the job, filtering out both blue light and harmful UV (ultra-violet) rays.
- If you don't wear them, use filtering sunglasses instead, especially during prolonged screen viewing.
- Reduce the amount of continuous time you spend at the screen.
- Adjust light settings on your device. Apple and Android smartphones and current PC models and operating systems have filters or "night mode" settings that remove or reduce blue light.
Scientists also hope that eye drops will be developed to counter the cell-killing effects of the light.