Your eye’s primary barrier against intense light is the iris. This is the colored area of your eye that controls how big or small your pupil is. Your iris responds to bright light rays by narrowing the pupil, protecting the retina, and enhancing how well it processes the incoming image.
In low light, on the other hand, the iris dilates the pupil to let in as much light as possible.
Keeping your eyes fixed on bright lights can harm them. The back of the eye is harmed when the retina’s light-sensing cells are overstimulated by exposure to bright light and release significant quantities of chemical signals.
How Can Bright Light Damage Your Eyes
Short exposure intervals can be harmful if the light is as strong as sunshine. If the light is not as intense, prolonged exposure over days or weeks can result in irreversible damage.
The sun shines so brightly that even a few seconds of direct exposure might permanently harm the retina. The macula, cornea, and lens can also be harmed by long-term exposure to UV rays over many weeks, months, or years—macular degeneration results from a damaged macula. The cornea can become “sunburned,” resulting in vision loss and blurred vision. A cataract, or clouding of the lens that causes eyesight opacity, may form on a damaged lens.
Even at moderate intensities, blue light can gradually harm your retinas. Since blue light’s wavelengths are shorter than those of warmer light, it has more energy. Long-term exposure might make age-related macular degeneration more likely (AMD).
The most prevalent source of blue light is sunlight, but other examples include fluorescent and LED lighting, TVs, computer and smartphone screens, and TVs and computer monitors.
People with lighter-colored eyes, which let in more light, would be expected to have a higher risk of AMD if light exposure is a risk factor for the disease. Indeed, compared to Caucasians, African-Americans are substantially less likely to get AMD. According to several studies, those with blue eyes are most in danger.
Other than blue light, there are other sources of bright light that can also damage your eyes. Some people frequently seek red light therapy and such variants for treatment purposes. Overexposure to these lights may also cause eye damage, so you must ensure eye protection for red light therapy during these sessions.
How To Protect Your Eyes From Bright Lights
Wearing sunglasses and a hat is the most straightforward technique to guard against potential retinal light damage. The lenses of the sunglasses should be dark. The light coming through the glasses’ lenses should seem grey, brown, or yellowish brown rather than blue, which is likely the most harmful light wavelength.
When purchasing ready-made sunglasses, choose those that block the least light (but only wear them if you can still see well enough). Request an extremely dark tint from the optician when getting custom sunglasses.
In addition to reducing glare, polarization will lessen the amount of light passing through sunglasses. The lens inside the eye is protected against cataracts by UV protection. Visible light can damage the retina because the eye’s lens prevents UV light.
Blue-blocking lens implants are now available from ophthalmologists after cataract surgery since it is considered that blue light can harm the retina. These might be beneficial, but sunglasses will have the same result.
Using as much light as you need to read or carry out daily tasks is wise, but there is no need to use more than this with powerful lighting. It is generally more comfortable to read in “warm” light, which favors reds and greens over “cool” blues, and may also be safer when choosing light bulbs.
Warm or full spectrum LED lights are available in energy-efficient models. Light is beneficial in moderation, as it is with most things.
Here are a few tips to protect your eyes from light damage:
- To lessen glare from bright lighting, use eyewear with anti-reflective lenses.
- When outside, put on dark-colored sunglasses and a brimmed hat.
- Wear polarized sunglasses with UV protection to protect your eyes from the damaging effects of blue light and ultraviolet rays.
- Reduce your time spent on screens daily, and take frequent breaks to rest your eyes.
- To reduce the quantity of blue light your computer’s screen emits, turn on the “night light” feature.
- Put on yellow-tinted computer glasses that block blue light to reduce digital eyestrain.
- Select LEDs and CFLs that provide “warm” light.
- If you need cataract surgery, look for intraocular lens (IOL) implants that block blue light to protect your retinas, similar to sunglasses.
Short exposure intervals can be harmful if the light is as strong as sunshine. Chronic exposure over days to weeks, even if the light is not as strong, can result in irreversible damage. Always protect your eyes from bright lights to prevent permanent damage.
When someone looks at the sun for more than 100 seconds, they risk developing permanent retinal damage. This took less than two minutes.
Flash blindness happens when a strong light overpowers your retina. A quick, intense light briefly bleaches the retinal pigment, but when the pigment regenerates, the color returns to normal. However, the exact mechanism might result in a permanent retinal burn when the light is extreme.
The cornea may quickly heal itself, even in the presence of disease or injury. There are instances where the damage to the cornea is too extensive for it to recover on its own, though.