Basking in the glow of blue light causing a dull ache in your head?
While the sun has been shining natural blue light down on us since the dawn of time, it’s artificial blue light that we should be wary of. We’re inundated with artificial blue light like never before, thanks to our fave digital devices (like the one you’re reading this on!).
Can blue light cause headaches?
Too much blue light exposure can lead to digital eye strain (DES), which can cause unpleasant symptoms — including headaches and migraine.
Regularly stepping away from your screens to give your eyes a break can help prevent headaches caused by blue light DES.
If you’re wondering why this happens? Keep reading for the deets on blue light headaches and how to prevent headaches before they bring you down.
Blue light is a high energy visible light wave that can have a serious impact on your eyes and overall well-being. Staring at screens can make our eyes work overtime, putting stress and strain on your peepers.
This can cause digital eye strain (DES), which can lead to eye discomfort, vision problems, and headaches. DES is also sometimes called computer vision syndrome when related specifically to screen-time blue light probs.
Because light and eye strain combined is a common migraine trigger, blue light can be especially problematic for those prone to migraine.
In a small study, participants were exposed to various intensities of blue, white, green, red, and amber light. The study found that blue light had the most negative impact on migraine.
The effects of blue light go beyond an achy head. A blue light headache may be accompanied by other symptoms, including:
Blue light glasses claim to keep the effects of blue light at bay — including headaches. But do blue light glasses work?
While one small study called out blue light for causing eye strain and headaches, the case for blue light glasses is mixed. Another study showed that blue light glasses do reduce blue light exposure.
But, there isn’t enough research to prove blue light glasses actually protect your peepers. The American Academy of Ophthalmology also doesn’t recommend wearing blue light blockers because of the lack of concrete evidence.
Ultimately, choosing blue light glasses comes down to personal choice. If using them eases those screen-time headaches, great! Just keep in mind blue light glasses aren’t going to be a cure-all for pounding heads if blue light isn’t the root cause.
Need help choosing a pair of blue light glasses?
Let’s face it: Blue light is unavoidable (when even the sun emits something, you simply can’t escape!).
But there are ways you can minimize its effects — especially from blue light overload from your digital devices.
Try these tips and tricks the next time a blue light headache creeps up:
- The 20/20/20 trick. This strategy is simple: Every 20 minutes when you’re using a digital device, look away from your screen and set your sights on something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
- Moisten up! If your eyes are hungry for moisture, try using eye drops like artificial tears or run a humidifier on the reg.
- Adjust your screen. Adjust your monitors to emit warmer tones, angle screens away from light to reduce glare, and try to keep a 20- to 28-inch distance between your eyes and your screen. One study showed that adding a blue-light filtering screen may also block 30% to 60% of blue light.
- Keep up on your eye prescription. Squinting is no good for your peepers (because straining, obvs) and can lead to headaches. If you can’t see a speck without your specs, make sure your lens’ prescription is up to date.
Besides headaches, there are several other ways that blue light can wreak havoc on your health, including:
- Dry eyes. You may not realize it, but you’re likely not blinking enough when you’re staring at a screen for long stretches of time. This creates a lack of moisture production, causing dryness to settle in.
- Blurred vision. It’s easy to find yourself down a social media rabbit hole, but too much scrolling without breaks can cause wonky vision. Taking regular screen breaks can help keep things crystal clear.
- Eye damage. A small study with animals found that prolonged exposure to blue light may cause serious damage to your retina. While more research is still needed, looking at blue light is not looking good for your eye health.
- Trouble sleeping. Does too much blue light = not enough Zzz’s? A research review suggested that blue light can lower your melatonin levels, leading you to have trouble falling and staying asleep.
On the flip side, blue light might have some benefits. A small study suggested that blue light may help give your memory and productivity a boost.
Blue light is a form of high energy visible light that’s emitted naturally by the sun and artificially by digital devices. Prolonged exposure to blue light can lead to some dark side effects, including eye strain, neck pain, and headaches.
Blue light headaches are often related to digital eye strain, which is caused by too much time in front of digital screens. While it can be hard to disconnect, taking regular screen-time breaks, keeping your eyes moist, and adjusting the blue light levels on your devices can help ease the headache-inducing effects of blue light. While not a proven fix, you might even find some relief from wearing blue-light-blocking glasses.