We all know that staring at our screens as often as we do isn’t good for our eyes. In fact, the blue light emitted from smartphones, laptops, and some TV screens can damage your eyes and impair your vision. Not only is your retina damaged by the light but staring at a screen too long can cause eye strain, headaches, and extreme fatigue. You may start to notice objects in the distance becoming blurry and an overall glare in your field of vision. These are all effects of blue light exposure to your eyes.
Luckily, there are lots of ways to maintain your vision and promote good eye health. Here are the best five tips to reduce exposure to blue light from digital devices.
1. Take a Break
This isn’t a popular one, but it’s necessary. We all depend on our smartphones for socializing, work, and entertainment. It’s normal to be addicted to checking your phone for one of these things, or a million other excuses. However, to protect your eyes from constant blue light exposure, you need to take breaks.
Try turning off your phone once you get to work. You can likely access your email from the computer; you don’t need to also be checking a second device. Make sure everyone important, like your kid’s school, has your work phone number so you don’t use that as an excuse to leave your phone on. You could also try turning it off once you come home from work or when dinner’s over. This is especially beneficial at night when blue light can affect your circadian rhythm and make it harder to fall asleep.
2. Vision Training Exercises
If you have a job that forces you to stare at your computer screen for long periods of time, it’s a good idea to learn some eye exercises. These are quick stretches you can do from your office chair or from your table at lunch. Start by looking far to the left (without moving your head) and then far to the right. Look upwards and downwards, holding each stretch for 10 seconds. It’s important to flex your range of eye motion because they’re often staring straight ahead the whole time you’re looking at the screen. Eye muscles need to be stretched like any other other muscle in the body.
Another common exercise that has proven helpful is the 10-10-10 rule. Every 10 minutes of computer work take 10 seconds to stare at something 10 feet away. This will relax the eye muscles that have been contracting for you to focus on the screen by focusing on something in the distance. Holding it for 10 seconds will not take any precious time away from your daily tasks, but it will make a huge difference for your eyes by stretching them and giving them regular breaks from the blue light.
3. Focus on Blinking
Most people don’t notice their reduction in blinking when they’re working on the computer or scrolling through their smartphone. We become so absorbed in what we’re reading or watching that our blinks become fewer and far between. Blinking is crucial to keep your eyes lubricated and relaxed, especially when being exposed to blue light which strains your eyes.
You may want to place a simple sticky note on your computer monitor reminding you to blink more or set a timer on your phone to interrupt you in 20 minutes that reminds you to blink. It seems like common sense, but it’s easy to forget to blink when you’re busy working on a computer.
4. Protective Eyewear
You can now purchase glasses that have a blue-light filter baked onto the lens. They’re still clear to see through and work with your prescription, but they also protect your eyes from blue light and adjust for glare. Glare causes our eyes to reabsorb light that we’ve already seen, commonly noticed in car mirrors and on regular glasses. Blue light filtered glasses are made with an anti-glare coating that prevents glare and reduces stress on your eye muscles.
While some blue light still gets through the filtered lens, the majority is blocked. The results of wearing these types of glasses long-term are astounding. One study from the University of Montreal showed that after wearing glasses with a filter coating on the lens, they felt a reduce in eyestrain, dry eyes, and eye fatigue. If you’re someone who is less inclined to take breaks from screen time, buying protective eyewear is your best option for protecting your vision.
You can purchase glasses from a company that makes blue light filtered lenses. Or you could take your existing glasses to a company that will apply the filter.
5. Protective Screens
Maybe you don’t wear glasses but prefer contact lenses, or don’t require any eyewear at all. You can still reduce blue light exposure on your screens by using a protective screen film. These are transparent screen protectors that not only save your screen from physical damage but block the blue light from entering your eyes. You can purchase these screens for smartphones, tablets, and computer monitors.
Some smartphones, like the Samsung Galaxy 8, have a built-in blue light filter feature, as do most Apple devices. You can simply go to your phone’s settings, select the display and brightness button, and turn on “night shift” or “night light” depending on your device. On some phones it’s even simpler on the display page of your settings app; you can simply turn the blue light filter on.
There are also multiple apps you can download that will apply a blue light filter to your smartphone. Here are some of the most common apps:
If you use your smartphone regularly, or you have a tablet that you let your children use, you should be going the extra mile to block blue light emissions. Use a screen protector, an app, or learn about the settings on your phone to eliminate any effects of blue light exposure on your eyes.