According to a 2018 study from Pew Research Center, approximately 95 percent of Americans own a cellphone today. That means a lot of time spent staring at a screen—not to mention computers, iPads, and TVs. So how do all of those devices affect our eyes?
Think of a rainbow. Working inward from red, orange, yellow... “the purple and blue are always on one end of the rainbow, and that short wavelength has the highest energy,” says Mitchell S. Fineman, MD, attending surgeon on the Retina Service of Wills Eye Hospital. “When blue light enters the eye, its energetic wavelength can actually damage the center of vision.” He notes that some research suggests that the energy of light, which is visible to the eye unlike ultraviolet rays, can increase the risk of macular degeneration, a medical condition that can result in blurred or no vision in the center of the eye. The key to reducing the risk, Fineman says, is timing. “During the day, there is a lot more natural blue light than a person could ever get with an iPad,” he says, “But when you stare at an [iPad] at night, it is dark around you, and your pupils could be dilated—meaning that more of the blue light is entering the eye.” Yet another reason to stash your smartphone at night.