Most people know that exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light can damage the eye and surrounding skin, but what about the high-energy visible (HEV) light being emitted from your smart phone or high-definition TV?
Current research suggests that prolonged exposure to HEV blue-violet light from artificial light sources has damaging effects to the retina that resemble early stage age-related maculopathy.
HEV light is all around us. Outdoors, we are exposed to HEV light in the sun’s rays, and some blue light exposure is essential for good health, boosting alertness, memory and mood. That dose is compounded, however, when our eyes receive HEV light emitted from indoor sources such as fluorescent bulbs and light-emitting diode (LED) screens – LED TVs, iPhones and computer screens.
“The longer a person is exposed to HEV the greater the risk,” said Patrick A. Scott, an optometrist with University of Louisville Physicians and assistant professor in the UofL Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences. “Children are at higher risk because the crystalline lens within the eye is completely clear, whereas adults have some degree of yellowing of the lens, which helps to absorb HEV light and prevent damage to the retina.”
The effects of HEV blue light can be combated by eating a healthy diet rich in anti-oxidants, daily supplementation with Vitamin C and E, and reducing time spent looking at cell phones, laptops, and TV screens.
Individuals who spend a great deal of time looking at electronic devices and screens can protect their eyes from excessive HEV light with special filters available for smartphones, tablets and computer screens that prevent significant amounts of blue light from reaching the eyes without affecting the visibility of the display. Another option, said Scott, is to filter out high-energy blue light with a coating added to eyeglasses or using special filtering non-corrective lenses.