Blue Light and Your Skin

Working remotely is the new reality for many. While earning a living from home has so many benefits, it has translated into waaaaaay more screen time than before.

Those face-to-face meetings and taking breaks are all part of the not-so-distant past. Even lunch breaks are now often spent in front of the screen, catching up on the day’s news or looking at social feeds.

By some estimates, we spend a whopping 50 percent of our lives in front of screens. This is why it’s important to understand blue light and how it might affect you.

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TRUE BLUE, BABY

Blue light is High Energy Visible (HEV) light, which registers as blue on the visible light spectrum. While it’s true we do get blue light from the sun – which is good for us in moderation – the accumulation of blue light we get from nature plus our exposure to screens and indoor lighting is a lot.

Science has shown that our skin cells have their own circadian rhythm. Blue light, then, can potentially throw your skin’s regenerative cycle into disarray, causing skin damage over time. While there is not a lot of research on how blue light affects our skin, there is some indication that too much isn’t good.

There is some evidence that blue light can contribute to photo-aging, hyperpigmentation, and damage skin elasticity.

DON’T BE BLUE

But spending time in front of our screens is far harder to avoid than suntanning for six hours a day. Dermatologists recommend the following:

  • Set the brightness level on your screens to 50 percent or use night mode – just as long as you don’t have to strain your eyes to see type!

  • Try to keep screens at least 12 inches away from your face.

  • Use handsfree when you can.

I WEAR MY SUNGLASSES AT NIGHT

While there’s no real harm in wearing blue light glasses, some specialists say they don’t do much to help your eyes. Many, such as Amir Mohenin, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor in the Ruiz Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Science at UTHealth‘s McGovern Medical School, consider them to be a trend.

“The reality is that most of the problems we’re having with computers and eyestrain isn’t from blue light; it’s from how we use the computers,” said Mohsenin. “We’re spending more and more time in front of the computer screens. There are things you can do to minimize eyestrain, but as ophthalmologists, we’re not recommending blue blocking glasses.”

While blue light isn’t completely avoidable for most people it’s best to be aware of its potential effects. Like anything else in life, moderation is key.

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