People all over the world are spending more time in front of computer screens. The quick increase in jobs that require computer use has given rise to concerns about health risks associated with sitting in front of a computer monitor for hours on end. Most people know that UV light is harmful to the eyes and skin since this type of light is given off by the sun and contributes to sunburn, among other problems, but can UV light come from computer screens? Many of the dangers believed to be present in computer use stem from this question.
UV Light Levels
CRT monitors (the large, box-shaped monitors that are swiftly becoming obsolete) do, in fact, emit low levels of UV light. However, according to the Robbins Eye Center of Bridgeport, CT, "radiation levels from computer screens are so low that a lifetime of exposure will not damage the eyes." (see References 1) Though eye fatigue may occur, this is not the same as actual eye damage.
This small amount of UV light, however, can sometimes cause problems for those who are extra sensitive to the sun, such as those with severe cases of xeroderma pigmentosum, or XP. XP is a disorder wherein the body cannot repair UV damage to the skin. Though people with light or moderate cases of XP probably will not see many negative effects from CRT monitor use, those with extreme XP should be very cautious. However, there is an alternative to UV-radiating CRT monitors.
Flat-Panel (LCD) Monitors
Flat-panel, or LCD, monitors, most commonly found on laptops but also common with many desktop computers, have not been found to emit any UV light. The Xeroderma Pigmentosum Society attempted to measure UV levels of LCD screens, but no UV radiation was detected at even the lowest levels. (see References 2)
Though UV light is not such a problem, computer monitors of all types and televisions have been found to emit blue light. While dangers associated with blue light are also mild to none, studies have shown that blue light causes the brain to be more alert, and sleep comes less easily. (see References 3) Because of this, it is best to stop using a computer at least an hour before bedtime and turn off any monitors that may be on in the bedroom for a better night's sleep.
While computer screens may not emit dangerous levels of UV light for most people (and LCD monitors don't emit it at all), fatigue and sleeplessness can still occur from overexposure to computer monitors. If potential radiation from a monitor is still a concern, however, a number of screen filters are available that are designed to cut glare and reduce any UV rays that may be present. Many of these are produced by the 3M company and are available at most electronics stores.