What is it and what can I do?
In our increasingly digital world, technology is now a part of our daily lives. Technology helps improve our lives in many ways, but it also exposes us to something that can affect our vision health: blue light.
Blue light is given off from many of the screens we look at every day such as televisions, computer monitors, smart phones and tablets. Recently, there has been increased concern for our long-term exposure to the blue light from these devices because we spend so much time looking at these screens, often at a close distance. There is particular concern for children’s exposure to blue light through screens because a recent study found that children’s eyes absorb more blue light than adults from digital device screens.
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It’s not all bad news. Blue light actually is needed for good health. Blue light helps boost our alertness, aids memory and other cognitive functions and can boost our mood. When exposed during the daytime, blue light helps maintain healthy sleep patterns.
However, exposure near bedtime can interrupt our wake and sleep schedule which makes it harder for us to fall asleep and makes us feel more tired during the day. Too much exposure “may affect vision and could prematurely age the eyes.” It may cause digital eyestrain which causes tiredness, dry or irritated eyes, headaches, and trouble focusing. Over time, over exposure to blue light can damage our eyes causing vision problems.
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We cannot reasonably ditch all technology because of blue light, but there are some ways to limit the effects of damaging blue light exposure. Here are five practical tips to combat digital eyestrain and limit damage from blue light:
Schedule a comprehensive eye exam
One of the best ways to take care of our eyes is to get regular eye exams, even if we don’t have vision problems. Talk with your optometrist about your screen usage to discuss the best practices for your habits and to treat or even prevent vision problems from screens.
Adjust display settings
Adjusting display settings like brightness, text size and contrast and color temperature on devices helps to reduce eye strain. These settings can provide comfort for your eyes during long-term viewing, but in general are good practice for limiting blue light exposure and eye strain.
Take time to blink
We blink less frequently during the time we spend looking at screens, and blinking is incredibly important in preventing dryness and irritation. Make it a point to blink during screen time to moisten your eyes. If your eyes are particularly dry, talk with your optometrist to discuss other solutions for eye dryness like artificial tears which can moisten your eyes if frequent blinking is not enough.
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Our eyes focus themselves when we look at screens and focusing for long time periods can cause more eye tiredness and stain. Consider following the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, take a 20 second break to look at least 20 feet away. After two hours of work, you should spend about 15 minutes away from your computer. Take this break from your screens to take a walk, get active, or find something else to do that is screen-free to pass the time.
Keep your distance
Get into the habit of making sure your screens are about an arm’s length away from your face. This is also a great habit to teach children as they learn healthy habits around their technology usage.
The next time you pick up your phone or work on your computer, remember these tips to maintain healthy eyes! Looking for more resources on maintaining healthy eyes? Check out the Vision Health section of the Delta Dental website.
Blog content provided by Delta Dental of Iowa, a proud supporter of the Healthiest State Initiative and Get Your Bib On.