With COVID driving everyone’s life to Zoom, people are really starting to question whether that much screen time is harmful. Does excessive exposure to the blue light emitted from smartphones and computer screens have any negative effects?
It turns out that experts have as many questions about the effects of blue light as they have answers.
What is Blue Light?
When we discuss the harmful effects of light, we are usually talking about invisible UVA and UVB rays. Blue light is different in that we can see this high-energy, short-wavelength light.
Blue light has become a large part of our lives, as the use of LED lights has grown. Smartphones, tablets, laptops, and TVs all utilize blue light-emitting LEDs. Your home may even be aglow with blue light from LED light bulbs.
It has gotten very difficult to avoid.
What Does Blue Light Do to Your Skin?
Research has shown that blue light can negatively impact your sleep.
With the popularity of blue light blocking glasses, you would think that eye damage from blue light was conclusive, but it’s not yet.
Skin damage from blue light also falls into that inconclusive category.
Studies have shown that blue light can cause generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). This sort of oxidative stress has been shown to cause inflammation and collagen degeneration, leading to premature skin aging.
There are also studies suggesting that blue light can cause long-term pigment changes. These changes could inhibit DNA protection from UV light.
While these small, initial studies point to a high risk of skin damage, more research is needed to be certain.
How Do You Prevent Skin Damage from Blue Light?
With our reliance on electronic devices, it is impossible to eliminate blue light from your life. However, you can take steps to minimize your exposure.
Switch to Night Mode
Most smartphones and tablets have a night mode that reduces blue light emission. Turn that feature on and leave it on.
Wear Sunscreen Every Day
Mineral sunscreens with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide have been shown to block blue light. Tinted mineral sunscreens that also incorporate iron oxide do an even better job.
Change Your Light Bulbs
There are low-blue light emitting household LED bulbs on the market. At the very least, switch your nightstand light bulbs to help get a better night’s sleep.
Although research is still inconclusive, early studies suggest that over-exposure to blue light is harmful. Play it safe by following the recommendation above and limit screen time as much as possible.