How much time do you spend staring at screens? From checking your phone in the morning to staring at your computer screen for hours at a time while you’re at work, and then chilling in front of the TV in the evening, it all adds up. One study from University College London found that the average Briton spends six hours a day looking at screens, while for a quarter of participants it was upwards of ten hours a day.
Bank of America released a recent study that showed nearly half of American customers couldn’t survive for more than a day without their mobile devices. Makes sense, as we live in a technologically-driven society.
While technology and its advances has been beneficial for some aspects of our lives, it also has a significant downside. The blue light emitted by your electronic devices can negatively impact your eyesight as well as your general health.
Negative Effects of Blue Light
Our eyes are what is habitually most impacted by continual and extended screen time. The most common side effect is what’s known as digital eye strain. Staring at a screen means we don’t blink as much, which puts pressure on your eyes.
The symptoms of digital eye strain are so common that you may not even recognize them as an actual problem, but they include blurry vision, headaches, tired, runny, or dry eyes. Digital eye strain is temporary, but if left unaddressed for too long, it may turn into a chronic issue.
The second problem that stems from blue light exposure is eye damage. The name blue light is self-explanatory, as it’s a light emitting a blue color. The reason why it can be harmful to our eyes and our health is that when it comes to visible light, blue light has the highest energy wavelength. Due to this high energy, it can penetrate through your eye’s natural filters all the way to the back of your eye, which is where the issue lays.
Blue light has been around for a long time, but the problem is that we are now getting increased amounts of exposures through all the digital devices we look at throughout the day – phones, tablets, computers, televisions, etc., meaning that we are causing our eyes permanent damage. Unlike digital eye strain, blue light exposure effects are cumulative and could lead to macular degeneration and other eye diseases.
Furthermore, research has shown that blue light suppresses melatonin. Melatonin is an important hormone produced by our bodies, helping us maintain a proper circadian rhythm, which is what helps us wake up and fall asleep. Disrupted circadian rhythms lead to lack of sleep, which has long-lasting health consequences.
Protecting Your Eyes From Blue Light
Technology is ever-evolving, so the odds are that we will be spending more time staring at screens during a big part of our days. Luckily, there are various ways that you can protect your eyes from the harmful effects of blue light.
Use a Blue Light Screen Protector
Blue light screen protectors are available for computer screens, tablets, and phones. Therefore, if you spend loads of time staring at a screen, they are a convenient way to reduce your blue light exposure. These screen protectors prevent a significant amount of emitted blue light from reaching your eyes without affecting how images, videos, or text is displayed on your screen.
Try the 20/20/20 Rule
When you are concentrating on a screen for extended periods of time, give them a break by using the 20/20/20 rule. Set a reminder so you take a break every 20 minutes for 20 seconds, and gaze at something 20 feet away. For example, look across your workspace or out a window.
Remember to Blink
It may sound silly, but when you’re concentrating, your blink rate decreases, which causes your tears to evaporate from the eye’s surface, leading to pain, redness, and eye irritation. Therefore, regularly blinking helps keep your eyes lubricated.
Use Light-Reducing Apps
There are various ways to reduce the amount of blue light emitted from your devices, including using the “Nightshift” mode on your phone or downloading light-reducing apps such as f.lux. Nonetheless, while these may help, the best way to stop your devices from interfering with your sleep is to put them away an hour before you intend to go to sleep. Instead, opt for something less stimulating to your eyes, such as meditating, listening to calming music, or reading a book.
Use Blue Light Blocking Glasses
Blue light blocking glasses are specially designed to filter the eye strain and headache-causing harmful blue light when using technology, so the amount of blue light that enters your eyes is minimized. These glasses have come a long way from the bulky and unattractive yellow glasses from yesteryear and now come in a wide array of designs – some even fashionable enough to wear in public.
With these simple ways to protect your eyes, you can breathe easier knowing that your eyes will last a lot longer than your trusty computers, tablets, and smartphones.