The Unknown Side Effects of Blue Light
by ELLA TODD '21
How much time do you spend on your tablet each day? The answer is most likely hours. According to recent research by Common Sense Media, teenagers spend an average of nine hours a day using technology. Students at Saint Ursula use these devices regularly to take notes, complete assignments, check Schoology, watch Netflix, and shop online. Tablets have become an essential part of daily life, but excessive use can produce negative consequences. Our tablets and other forms of technology emit high amounts of blue light, which causes eye strain, headaches, and insomnia.
The screens in modern technology are lit by an artificial blue light, which has a short wavelength and high energy. This light scatters and flickers more often than other wavelengths which leads to frequent eye strains. However, eye problems are not the only negative side effect associated with our tablets. Headaches can result from this increased eye strain, especially for those who are already prone to migraines.
Ms. White, our nurse, recalls her own experience: “When I first started working [at Saint Ursula], looking at my computer everyday caused a terrible headache. I normally don’t get headaches because I’m usually not looking at a screen. I know the computer caused it.”
Blue light can also disrupt the body’s natural production of melatonin, a hormone which helps to regulate sleep. This makes it more difficult to fall asleep at night and causes lower energy the next day.
Now, you may be wondering how you can avoid these eye strains and headaches. One way to avoid the negative effects is to invest in blue light glasses, which protect the eyes through filters. These filters can be added to prescription or non-prescription glasses. These glasses have recently gained popularity as more people learn about the strain technology puts on their eyes.
Junior Ellie Vonderhaar shares her experience with the glasses: “The blue light glasses help me to no longer get headaches when I do homework and I can now be on my tablet for longer periods of time.”
Another way to preserve your eyes without purchasing glasses is to occasionally look away from your tablet while working on an assignment. This allows your eyes to refocus and avoid eye strain.
Lastly, try not to use your phone or tablet before bed. Not only do “cell phones [...] worsen your vision, especially because of their small size,” says Ms. White, they also alter melatonin levels. To avoid this, try saving your homework on paper for last or doing a relaxing activity before bed. The most important thing is to be conscious of the time your spending on technology because while it is definitely a necessity, it can be minimized.