Blue light emitted from smartphones, tablets and computers could be putting users at risk of early onset Macular Degeneration, a Palmerston North optometrist warns.

Harmful 'blue-violet' light emitted from the LED screens of these devices, as well as close proximity to the light makes the risk of damage worse, and can also contribute to eye fatigue.

Optometrist Brian Naylor said blue light damage was of growing concern as people spend greater periods of time every day on digital devices while working and studying.

"Recent figures show that a typical multi-screen user in New Zealand are clocking up just under seven hours of screen time daily, which includes laptops, TV and smartphones.


"All of these emit significant amounts of blue-violet light, which is the highest energy wavelength of visible light, and because of that can penetrate through the eyes' natural filters, all the way to the back of the eye."

Recent studies show the effects of blue light are believed to be increasing, and computers are the worst culprits, closely followed by tablets and smartphones.

"Over-exposure to blue light can cause headaches, dry eyes, and difficulty sleeping in the short-term, and there are potential longer-term effects that we are also worried about.

"In particular, blue-violet light is a proven risk factor of Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), along with genetic factors, smoking and diet.

"Currently, AMD is the leading cause of visual impairment in the Western world, and it could be getting worse due to these devices."

Those who spend long periods of time on computers, tablets and smartphones, should think about protecting their eyes from damaging levels of blue light.

"If you wear glasses, there are lenses specially designed to help filter blue light. They let in the good blue-turquoise light that helps regulate your sleep cycle and keeps your pupillary reflex healthy, but keep out virtually all UV and blue-violet light."

For those without prescription glasses, it was becoming increasingly common overseas for people who have blue light exposure for hours every day to wear blue-light blocking clear lenses in order to reduce eye fatigue and protect them from damage.


Dr Naylor also recommended reducing time spent on devices wherever possible.

"Especially at night, it's important to give your eyes a rest from screens so the blue light doesn't interrupt your sleep patterns and you get a healthy, restorative rest."

NZME. np ml