Scientific data lacks when it comes to claims of blue light damage to eyes

Reporter: Amy Oshier
Published: Updated:

Digital devices are part of daily life for most of us, even our kids. And as tech continues to grow in popularity, so are concerns about the claims of the potential damage it might be doing to young eyes.

Blue light blocking glasses have increased in popularity over fear of overexposure to certain lights, and potential damage to children’s eyes, but the claims are not so clear.

Hannah Adkins oversees everything that impacts her 2-year-old daughter Isla’s well-being. She’s especially sensitive about light.

“My husband just has always had eye problems,” she said. “He doesn’t want her to have any damages done to her eyes that could be permanent.”

It’s the blue light that she finds worrisome. “We are worried about the blue light damage damaging her eyesight, possibly.”

However, pediatric ophthalmologist Dr. Jessica Kovarik explains, “Light actually comes in a range of different colors. And blue light is just one particular wavelength.”

Kovarik is well aware of the trendy eyeglasses that filter out blue light and she’s throwing a red flag on their efficacy.

“There has been a lot of discussion about blue light blocking glasses, but there isn’t actually any scientific data, or science to explain any harm being done to the eye from blue light,” she added.

But staring at digital devices does have a downside, Kovarik said, in the form of strain. “The discomfort that we experience while looking at screens, such as computer screens, tablets, phones, comes more from something called digital eye strain, which is more from eyestrain, from the contrast, the bright contrast between the screen and the surrounding light.”

Too much blue light could cause your brain to think the sun is still up and keep you up at night by disrupting your natural sleep rhythm,

Kovarik said, “It can trigger our brain to produce less melatonin and make it harder for us to fall asleep at night. Because blue light is actually a wavelength emitted by the sunlight during the day.”

Doctors agree it’s best to power off a few hours before bedtime or avoid screen time altogether.

Adkins said, at her house, “We have avoided iPads. She doesn’t have any kind of technology,” for her 2-year-old.

As a rule of thumb. There is a 20-20-20 rule to avoid eye strain: for every 20 minutes of screen time, take a 20-second break and focus your gaze 20 feet away.

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