Our eyes are sensitive organs. Many environmental factors can impact our vision and overall eye health, causing everything from mild allergy symptoms to permanent eye damage. Lighting can be particularly tricky. Our eyes and brain rely on light to see, but some kinds of light can cause harm if we get too much exposure, or exposure at the wrong times. Here are the most common types of light and lighting that affect eye health.

UV light

Ultraviolet light has the shortest wavelength of any light on the visible light spectrum. This means it carries a ton of energy, and while we need a little UV light in our lives, too much can quickly get harmful. The biggest source of UV light comes from our sun.

Most of us don’t think twice about protecting our skin from UV rays, but we frequently forget about our eyes. Not only is the skin of your eyelids much thinner and therefore more easily burned than the rest of your skin, but cumulative exposure to UV light can also potentially damage your eyes and vision. Macular degeneration, a serious and irreversible condition that often results in severely compromised vision or blindness, may be exacerbated or even caused by excess UV light exposure.

Fortunately, protecting your eyes from the sun is easy. A slick pair of UV-resistant sunglasses will stop the harmful light from getting to your eyes. The more often you wear them, the better you are protected. If you need prescription glasses, don’t worry! Sunglasses from 39DollarGlasses.com can be fitted with prescription lenses.

Blue light

Blue light lies right next to ultraviolet light on the visible light spectrum, meaning it too is high in energy. Blue light is found naturally in sunlight and is partly responsible for keeping our brains awake during the day. The absence of blue light at night is a key part of keeping our sleeping cycles in check.

However, with the onset of the digital age, people are exposed to more blue light and in higher doses than ever before. Electronic devices such as computer and phone screens pelt us with an extra dose of blue light, as do other unnatural light sources. This can be especially problematic for people who use electronics often or late at night. Overall, blue light contributes to eye strain and sleep problems.

There is also concern that excess blue light can lead to or otherwise exacerbate macular degeneration. Whether or not there is enough blue light coming from electronic screens to make a significant difference is still being studied. If you worry about how much time you spend in front of a screen, consider investing in some blue light glasses (sometimes called computer glasses). Online glasses from 39 Dollar Glasses use Blue495 coating to protect against blue light. Many monitors also have night settings that filter out blue light.

Right now, the most significant and damaging source of blue light remains the sun, and the best protection is frequent use of sunglasses.

Fluorescent lighting

Fluorescent lights produce ultraviolet rays, as well, and consistent, prolonged exposure to them may contribute to eye disease and degeneration. Fluorescent lighting is also known for its obnoxious brightness and unnatural appearance. Fluorescent lights are typically found in business settings as they are economical light choices.

Due to its brightness, fluorescent lighting is also known to increase eye strain and its symptoms:

  • Dry eyes
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • Soreness

Not all fluorescent lights are the typical, long square business lights. Many compact lights also use fluorescent lighting. If the lighting in a building seems harsh or is hurting your eyes, ask which kind of bulbs are being used.

Dim lighting

Just like bright lighting, dimly lit environments can also harm your eyes. While not likely to permanently damage your vision, dim light contributes to eye strain as vision decreases without sufficient light. Your eyes will have to work harder to decipher the images in front of them, and this increased effort leads most people to quickly tire. Activities that require reading or focusing on small objects are particularly difficult in dim light, and productivity declines.

Work environments should always have enough light to easily see by, without having too much light which can cause soreness and blurry vision.

Preventing eye damage

Prevention is the most effective method of maintaining healthy eyes. Keep annual exams with an eye doctor and if you wear prescription glasses, make sure to keep the prescription updated. Wearing old eyeglasses that no longer completely correct your vision can add to eye strain and discomfort.

Consider campaigning your workplace to make healthier lighting choices. Add lamps or additional lighting to dim areas and position screens away from windows to avoid excess glare.

And most importantly, wear 100 percent UV-blocking sunglasses as frequently as you can, even if it doesn’t seem very bright outside. Prescriptions eyeglasses from 39DollarGlasses.com also offer UV protection.