Problems & Conditions

Problems & Conditions

Blue LightClick here to download the 2017 blue light/digital eye strain report.

What Is Blue Light?

Blue light, also known as high energy visible (HEV) light, is a type of light with short wavelengths emitting a higher energy. Blue light penetrates deep into the eye, so exposure may result in:

  • Damage to the retina exposing the eye to hidden spikes in intensity
  • Long-term vision problems such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts
  • Suppressing the natural release of melatonin, disrupting sleep

Aside from sunlight, digital screens – like those of TVs, computer/laptops, smart phones and tablets – are the most common source of individuals' blue light exposure.

More than 80 percent of Americans report using digital devices in the hour before going to sleep, which has been shown to disrupt sleep patterns by increasing alertness to the brain.

How Does Digital Eye Strain Come Into Play?

With an increase in digital technology, there has been an increase in blue light exposure. In turn, many individuals suffer from the physical eye discomfort after screen use for longer than two hours at a time, also known as digital eye strain.

More than 87 percent of Americans report using digital devices for more than two hours per day, and 52.2 percent report using two digital devices simultaneously.

What Is The Impact?

Americans report experiencing the following symptoms of digital eye strain:

  • 31 percent report experiencing eye strain
  • 22 percent report experiencing dry eyes
  • 22.6 percent report experiencing headache
  • 22.1 percent report experiencing blurred vision 
  • 30.1 percent report experiencing neck and shoulder pain

Americans are becoming increasingly digitized, with more of our daily tasks moving online. For example:

  • 73 percent use a computer to do research
  • 55 percent use a smart phone as an alarm clock
  • 50.4 percent use a computer to go shopping
  • 49.4 percent use a smart phone to check the weather
  • 48.7 percent use a computer to find a recipe

Digital eye strain is becoming a family affair, affecting all age groups. The following report using digital devices for more than two hours per day:

  • 91 percent of those ages 18 to 39
  • 88.6 percent of those ages 40 to 59
  • 78.5 percent of those ages 60 and up

What Can Be Done To Reduce Exposure To Blue Light?

Eyewear is available with lenses featuring blue light-filtering capabilities – that reduce the negative effects of blue light – as well as anti-reflective or anti-glare properties. This technology can help minimize the negative effects blue light has on the body's circadian rhythm, which can hinder a good night's sleep. This technology also reduces the symptoms of digital eye strain.

But individuals don't have to sacrifice style for function when it comes to eyewear. These specialized lenses can be incorporated into virtually any pair of frames, so individuals can choose eyewear that complements their personal look, while meeting their eye health needs.

However, 68.5 percent of Americans report they have not discussed their digital device usage with their eyecare provider, and 73.5 percent reported they did not know eyewear can be used to protect the eyes from short- and long-term effects of digital eye strain, as well as blue light exposure.

The Vision Council recommends individuals and their child(ren) visit a local eyecare provider to discuss their digital habits and what eyewear solutions are available to relieve the symptoms of digital eyes train and reduce exposure to blue light.

In addition to eyewear solutions, other ways to relieve digital eye strain include:

  • Following the 20-20-20 rule, taking a 20-second break from the screen every 20 minutes and looking at something 20 feet away
  • Reducing overhead lighting to eliminate screen glare
  • Positioning yourself at arm's distance away from the screen for proper viewing distance when at a computer
  • Increasing text size on devices to better define content on the screen

Highlights From the Report