Do you have a job that requires you to spend most of your day staring at your computer screen? Or, do you find yourself constantly on smaller screens, smart phones, or other personal devices that beam out artificial blue light into your eyes?
While natural blue light can actually be good for you, too much artificial blue light is not, and can cause a myriad of health issues. Digital eye strain (DES) is one of the most common and according to The Vision Council, over 200 million Americans experience DES.
One characteristic of blue light is that it penetrates all the way to the retina (the inner lining of the back of the eye). Studies show that too much exposure to blue light can damage cells in the retina. These changes resemble those of macular degeneration, which can lead to permanent vision loss. More research is needed to determine how much natural and artificial blue light is "too much blue light" for the retina. Many eye care professionals are concerned the increase in blue light exposure from computer screens, smartphones and other digital devices might increase a person's risk of macular degeneration.
Too much man-made blue light has also been proven to affect the body’s natural wake and sleep cycle making it harder to fall asleep at night. A lack of Zs can make us easily irritated, anxious, and can even make it hard to think!
If you find yourself spending a lot of time on your computer and digital devices every day, here are 10 things you can do to reduce your exposure to artificial blue light.
- The 20-20-20 Rule - When working on a screen, every 20 minutes look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds, an exercise recommended by the American Optometric Association.
- Set your iPhone to “Night Shift” from 9pm to 7am – The Night Shift function changes the colors of the phone display to warmer colors, so you are exposed to less blue light.
- Buy reduced-blue LED lights for your home and office to warm up your surroundings.
- Change the color tone option on your computer monitor to “warm”.
- Put your digital devices down 2 hours prior to your bedtime.
- Buy reading glasses with UV protection and Blue Light blocking technology.
- Limit screen time.
- Blink, blink, blink.
- Download an app to block blue light from your device.
- Replace old, scratched, reading glasses.
Most of us are using our computers and digital devices more and more everyday. We are experiencing red eyes, tired eyes, and possibly a lack of sleep. While the effects of over exposure to blue light is still being studied, it seems to make good sense to limit it. Love your eyes.