These days, many people would tell you that paper-based books will soon become a thing of the past. The technology behind tablets and e-readers has allowed us to have literally tens of thousands of books in the span of one electronic device the size of an average page.
But the true question here is – are e-readers all that they’re cracked up to be? And are they harmless in terms of human health? In that context, you’ll hear a lot of talk of “blue light” and “EMF” (Electromagnetic field radiation) that’s harmful to people.
Yes, even the e-ink devices that tout being practically identical to a physical piece of paper do emit a certain portion of blue light, no matter how small. After all, they need to have some sort of backlighting.
And while newer devices are showing signs of improvement in terms of blue light filtering, there is still definitely cause for concern; especially when it comes to tablet devices like the Amazon Fire models, that basically radiate blue light without pause. Don’t worry, though – we’ll break down all of the details on blue light here, as well as ways you can protect your eyes and health from it!
What Is Blue Light and Why Can It Be Harmful?
Before we get into the weeds of blue light protection, we need to understand just what this phenomenon is.
By definition, any kind of light consists of tiny electromagnetic particles. These particles travel and exist in waves, and these waves all have varying lengths. Compared to the energy they emit, the wavelengths exist in an inverse proportion state. To put it simply – the longer a wavelength is, the less energy it will emit.
We categorize these waves by color, as will be logical to you if you think about infrared, ultraviolet rays, and all of the other color-coded waves you’ve heard about. But for the purposes of our topic, it’s crucial to note that human eyes can only sense the visible part of the color spectrum: meaning colors like yellow, orange, green, blue, etc. Blue light is a particularly powerful wavelength, as these waves are short and have incredibly high levels of energy.
Is Blue Light Bad at All Times?
So, does this mean that blue light is always bad for you? Actually, no. In this day and age, there are plenty of misconceptions about blue light and its health effects. However, in reality, blue light isn’t always artificial, and it’s not always a source of adverse health consequences.
For instance, when you’re outside, you’re also exposed to blue light; the sun emits it as well.
The particles of blue light interacting with other molecules is what makes the sky appear blue to us.
Why Is Blue Light Harmful?
Of course, seeing as so much talk goes into how to protect yourself from blue light – is it sometimes harmful as well? Unfortunately, yes. All of the electronic devices with screens we use today emit this type of light.
And that goes for all smartphones, tablets, computers, laptops, and e-readers. In some situations, the blue light is shown on the screen, and sometimes it comes from the screen’s backlighting.
Whichever the source is, though;
artificially produced blue light is a serious source of strain for our eyes. It can lead to everything from headaches to serious degeneration that causes long-term eyesight reduction.
Simply put, our eyes do not filter out enough of blue light, which is the primary reason why a lot of manufacturers of electronic devices have begun thinking about blue light filters. There are some devices with built-in filters, and there are external accessories like blue light glasses. Plus, there are software solutions as well; for example Windows 10 has a “night light” option which reduces the amount of blue light that the screen displays, and replaces it with warmer colors.
Are There Any E-Readers Without Blue Light Existing?
Unfortunately, there isn’t any E-reader out there that doesn’t emit at least a tiny amount of blue light. While it can be toned down or artificially disabled, a certain portion will always be emitted as long as the device is on.
Of course, the amount of blue light that any device emits will solely depend on the specific product in question, as well as its brand.
Do Kindle E-Readers Emit Blue Light?
Yes, all E-readers are sources of at least tome blue light. While the Kindle E-readers function on e-ink tech that’s less obtrusive than a tablet or a smartphone; they’re still not completely devoid of blue light emitting.
Does the Kindle Paperwhite Emit Less Blue Light?
The Kindle Paperwhite is one of the better E-readers out there. It definitely has a lot of nifty features, and one of the most important ones for our topic is the fact that it reduces blue light emissions to the bare minimum. Seeing as we’re not talking about a smartphone or a tablet screen, the content itself does not produce any blue light; the minimal emissions that do exist are solely from backlighting.
There are people who want to eliminate this as well, and there is an option for doing so. You can stick on top of your Kindle screen an additional blue light filter and completely block out any backlighting. Though, just like with a book – you’ll need at least some external light to read anything. Find out more about the additional blue light filter here on Amazon.com.
Do I Need a Blue Light Filter for E-Readers?
We would advise using a blue light filter, because there are no E-readers without blue light emission.
As you might assume, the abovementioned Kindle Paperwhite model is one of the ones that strains your eyes the least; particularly if you use it during daytime. If you use its backlighting during the night instead of an overhead lamp, for instance, you should assume you’re getting more blue light from the device.
But that kind of E-reader is nothing in terms of blue light emissions compared to tablet devices. The Kindle Fire, for example, is just an ordinary tablet that has an E-reader-friendly software suite. Remember that such devices have a LED screen that’s completely dependent on internal lighting. Sure, the Kindle Fire may have a “Blue Shade” reading mode that’s designed to minimize blue lighting. But if you’re using such a device, we still recommend finding a blue light sticker filter like the ones you can find here on Amazon.com
Do E-Readers Affect Sleep?
Yes. If you’ve been reading up on the health effects of blue light, you’ve probably heard that this type of lighting isn’t good for your sleep. But why is that? Well, remember how our eyes don’t filter out blue light particularly well? That means all of this light goes right through to the sensors found in your retina, and gets translated into images by your brain.
That means you won’t be able to calm your nervous system into a sleepy state come nighttime, because you’re spending your time staring at screens that are full of blue light.
The bright light of the screen suppresses the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin.
This tends to disrupt the natural order of our sleep, called the circadian rhythm. In other words, you won’t be sleepy when you need to be, and you will fall asleep harder.
Is There Any Other Harm Like Radiation?
Blue light emissions aren’t the only consequence from exposure to a lot of electronic devices. Remember, these devices function on a series of interlocking electromagnetic waves and particles. And while not all of them are visible, they definitely interact with your body and affect it in myriad ways.
How Can I Protect Myself From Blue Light While Using My E-Reader?
If you want to protect yourself from blue light as you read your e-books, don’t worry; there are a couple of ways you can do that. In this situation, your first line of defense is built-in tech.
As we’ve said before, many E-readers these days have their own software solutions for reducing and adjusting blue light levels. The Blue Shade option on the Kindle Fire is just one example of that. For instance, iOS devices offer a “night shift” option you can toggle on and off, also lowering blue light emissions. Both are just different names for the same type of setting. Though, the iOS one allows you to schedule when the blue light filter will appear, while Blue Shade on the Kindle just lets you toggle it on and off.
Apart from that, you’ve also got nifty stick-on filters. This is probably the best option when it comes to additional light filtering. These are physical see-through stickers for E-readers but also for your laptop phone or tablet. They are designed to block out most blue light coming from the screens. Find out more about the additional blue light filter here on Amazon.com.
Lastly, we’ve got a more personal option – blue light filtering glasses. This kind of product has slowly but surely been gaining traction in the past couple of years. Its advantage is that you don’t have to buy a separate filter for each of your devices; you get the glasses, and you can view any kind of screen with reduced damage to your eyesight. You can pick the glasses that fit you best from a wide selection here on Amazon.com.
We hope this guide was useful to you and that you’ve learned something new today about blue light.