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Are smart devices affecting health aspects

Scientists have concluded that damage through blue light from screens is minimal compared to exposure to blue light emitted from the sun

Whether you are watching your favourite web series or scrolling through social media you don’t realise that you would spend hefty hours and this prolonged exposure can be detrimental.

We all know that digital screens emit blue light which scientists believe can be both good and bad for your skin depending on the intensity and duration.

What is blue light?

Sun is the chief emitter of blue light contained in the visible light spectrum with a wavelength in the range of 380-500 nanometres yet smart devices (computers, laptops, cell phones, TV screens, LEDs) too emit blue light.

Is blue light really damaging to your skin?

It’s evident through various scientific resources that blue light is damaging to the eyes and can lead to dryness, itching, redness, and macular degeneration. Moreover, it hinders the circadian rhythm or the sleep-wake cycle causing sleep disturbances. But what about skin?

Kathleen Suozzi, MD, a dermatologic surgeon and the director of aesthetic dermatology at Yale Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, says there is no solid scientific evidence that blue light damages skin.

“It is suspected that blue light may induce harmful effects on the skin, specifically pigmentation and photoaging; however, this has not been proven,” she says.

She points out that some dermatologists even use blue light to treat certain skin conditions, such as acne, and there have been no reports that these treatments damage skin pigmentation.

So, how worrying is blue light exposure to the skin?

As you stroll down the cosmetics aisle in any store, you’ll find countless products claiming to protect your skin against blue light. However, as per various studies conducted, scientists have concluded that damage through blue light from screens is minimal compared to exposure to blue light emitted from the sun.

As stated, blue light is used for photodynamic therapy for treating acne, eczema, and certain cancers. It also boosts the healing of wounds.

But this doesn’t mean you should go off guard while working or spending time on your screens for longer periods. Compared to computer or laptop screens, using cell phones is more damaging as they are held much closer to the face and eyes.

Secondly, opt for skincare products containing vitamin C (ascorbic acid), iron oxide, or other antioxidants to counteract the damage from free radicals. Also, they aid in collagen production (needed to keep skin elastic and youthful) and prevent photo aging and hyperpigmentation.

While several claims emphasise the usage of sunscreens as a shield for blue light from devices but experts believe that SPFs (sun protection factors) are effective against UVA and UVB radiations from sunlight only.

Mineral-based sunscreens containing zinc oxide and titanium dioxide (US FDA approved) provide better and broader protection against blue light rays.

Concisely, setting limits on your screen time, wearing proper sunscreen everyday, and opting for appropriate skincare products is the key to radiant and youthful skin.

Dr Nisma Haris

The writer is a general physician, content creator

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