Behind Blue Lights
While it may not be the sexiest thing ever—bringing awareness to ocular health is more important than ever.
Many of us—me included—use a computer for almost 100% of our jobs. That means we are staring at a bright computer screen for a large portion of the day without giving our eyes an extended break.
I looked at a computer screen for hours creating this blog, and you are looking at a screen to read it. It’s just the way the world works now.
Unfortunately, those of us who use a computer all day at work typically go home to look at their phone, tablet, or TV screen for the rest of the night. I am so very guilty of this myself. I commend those who are able to completely unplug when they get home.
All that time staring at a screen can be detrimental to the health and wellness of our eyes. It can lead to serious problems down the road.
So what makes starting at screens so problematic?
You can contribute part of that to what is known as “blue light.”
Shining the Light on Blue Light
Blue light is all around us—from solar emissions, to fluorescent lights, to our smartphone, laptops, and TV screens. Blue light is a visible light with a very short wavelength, meaning it produces a higher amount of energy that can be harsh on your eyes.
While natural blue light exposure can be beneficial to us—boosting our mood, alertness, and energy levels—prolonged and up-close exposure can be very harmful.
Blue light’s shorter, higher energy wavelengths flicker, creating a glare that is one of the leading factors behind eyestrain after staring at a screen for multiple hours. This is known as “digital eyestrain” and can affect anyone with extended exposure to blue light.
If you’ve ever been scrolling and stalking on the InstaChats or the Tweetbooks, watching YouTube videos of how to put makeup on your dog or of doctors popping massive pimples (please don’t watch these) for hours on end—you might have found yourself not feeling that great (on top of feeling queasy from the pimple videos). You might get a headache, or blurry vision, difficulty focusing, neck and back pain, or dry eyes.
Those are all symptoms of digital eyestrain, and are a good reminder to step away from the screen for a while.
Blue light exposure late at night can also disrupt our circadian rhythm (our body’s natural 24-hour clock) and suppress production of melatonin—making it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep.Fighting the Light
For a lot of the population, our work makes it impossible to fully step away from blue light exposure for long periods of time, but there are some different things you can do to limit face-to-face time with blue light.
It sounds simple and arbitrary, but being cognizant of how often you’re blinking can keep your eyes from getting dry from staring at the screen. Keeping your eyes moist is a great way to combat strain and punishment on your peepers.
The Bigger the Better
Increasing the size of the text on your computer or phone isn’t just for your parents or those who are far-sighted—it can help keep you from squinting and straining and putting pressure on your eyes and head. It might take some getting used to at first, but it will put your eyes much more at ease.
A common rule of thumb for those in the know is to take a 20/20/20 break when spending an extended period of time exposed to blue light. This means that every 20 minutes, you take a 20-second break from the screen and look at something 20 feet away. This will help readjust your eyes and give them some much need relief.
Get Some Specs
If you are worried about your constant blue light exposure, talk to your ophthalmologist about getting some computer glasses. The design of the glasses can help limit blue light reaching your eyes and also help relax your eyes.
It’s 2017 and glasses are known to be hip and cool. I should know; I wear them every day. You can help prevent blue light exposure and strain on your eyes while looking super cute by getting yourself a pair of computer glasses.
Nourish Your Eyes
One good way to help maintain long-term eye health is to take an eye-support supplement. Supplements that contain lutein and zeaxanthin can protect the retina and maintain the structural integrity of the eye.
If only we knew of a place that has an award-winning eye-health supplement……
Put it Down!
This is probably the most obvious advice, but put your device down for a while. It’s the best way to limit negative blue light exposure. Close your eyes or go outside. If you aren’t staring at a screen or fluorescent light, your eyes won’t be exposed to it.
This might not be the easiest thing to do. Especially when Justin Bieber drops a banging new music video, but it’s the most effective.
In our current day and age, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to avoid looking at a bright screen for hours on end. But staying mindful of blue light exposure and following these simple tips can offer a great deal of help when trying to protect and preserve your eyes down the road.