Blue light and screens: how to protect yourself from their harmful effects?

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Dr. François Lalonde, PhD, CSEP-CEP - Health Promotion Specialist

We all know that we spend too much time in front of our screens. Whether it’s a computer, laptop, tablet, TV or smartphone, the total time of exposure to screens during a week adds up sneakily. One of the resulting negative effects is exposure to blue light.

Blue light is naturally projected by the sun during the day and can be beneficial at this time of day; it increases our attention, contributes to our good moods and improves our reaction time. In short, there is nothing better than soaking up the sun to get your daily requirement of vitamin D and give your mood a boost!

However, you should also know that the retina does not block blue light as well as it blocks UV rays. The problem occurs when the sun goes down and we continue to be exposed to blue light because we use so many screens.

Prolonged exposure to blue light can cumulatively damage our eyes over the long term, resulting in cataracts, retinal damage or itchy eyes.

Blue light also affects our production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Poor-quality and/or insufficient sleep can be a risk factor for the development of obesity and Type 2 diabetes.*

How to protect yourself

1- Keep track of your exposure to sun rays during the day.

2- Buy glasses or contact lenses that block blue light (ask your optometrist for advice).

3- Use applications or filters on your devices to reduce the undesirable effects of the blue light they emit.

4- Limit the time your kids spend each day in front of screens. Children under 2 years old should not have access to screens. Children aged 2 to 5 should not be exposed to screens for more than one hour a day, and kids aged 5 to 18 should not be exposed for more than two to three hours.

5- Limit the time you spend in front of screens, especially two to three hours before bedtime.

6- Use a dim red light in the evening to light rooms. In the hope that I have raised your awareness of this modern reality, I now leave you with good news: you can take action! * An article on this subject appeared in the December 13, 2017 issue of Servir.

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