If you work in an office setting, you may use an electronic device for most of your workday. After you come home, you may spend some time unwinding by watching something on Netflix or on YouTube. Before you go to bed, you may want to check your email on your phone and respond to a few personal messages. That seems pretty normal, doesn’t it?
If this is a typical day for you, it is time to reconsider how your choices are affecting your eyes. Electronic devices like computers, smartphones, tablets, and even LED and CFL light bulbs emit blue violet light, commonly known as blue light. Because the wavelength of blue light is shorter and higher in energy than most other wavelengths of visible light, it scatters more and causes glare. This often results in eye strain, blurred vision and headaches (Source: Business Standard).
Using tablets at night can also have an adverse effect on our sleep patterns. Overexposure to blue light can cause sleep problems and insomnia. Why is this? Blue light affects levels of the sleep-inducing hormone called melatonin. Alterations of sleep patterns can interfere with the body’s natural circadian rhythm, and recent studies show that our body’s clock can influence organ function (Source: Scientific American).
How can we protect ourselves from eye damage associated with blue light if digital devices surround us on a daily basis? Here are some practical ways to protect your eyes from blue light damage:
- Get a comprehensive eye exam. Schedule regular eye exams to ensure that your vision stays clear and healthy. Your vision can change dramatically, and if your prescription is not current, it can increase eye strain.
- Talk to your ophthalmologist about prescribing protective lenses with blue light filters. This will help reduce eye strain.
- Use proper lighting. Most of our ambient light is too bright, so use lower intensity bulbs in your bedroom and office (if possible).
- If you use your devices at night, download a blue light filter app. There are several free apps in your App Store that will put a filter on the screen of your smartphone or tablet to reduce glare at night.
- Try not to use your devices directly before bedtime. Overexposure to blue light can cause restlessness and insomnia. Set a limit of turning off your devices at least one hour before bedtime and charge your devices in a different room so you are not tempted to turn them back on.
- Increase your blink rate. Staring at a screen reduces your blink rate, so be deliberate about trying to blink more often than you think you need to blink