As the average screen time for the population goes up, it has unintended consequences for your eye health. Given the digital future of the world, it is difficult to completely cut out digital screens. However, there are certain measures you must take to ensure your eye health is not compromised due to changing times. Though eye strain from digital devices does not directly cause blindness, evidence suggests it plays a part in increasing your risk of conditions that can cause blindness. So, let’s understand the impact of digital devices on your eye health and how you can keep yourself safe from its negative effects.
Blue Light: The Invisible Threat to Our Eye Health
Blue light is one-third of the light spectrum. This means all the light you can see and comprehend with your eyes, one third of that is blue light. This light is special because it has a short wavelength and high energy. The most common source of blue light is sunlight. Other sources are digital screens, LED lights, and fluorescent bulbs. Even though these lights are eco-friendly they have an adverse affect on your body. It affects your sleep. How? Let’s find out.
As human beings, evolution made us as such that our body wants to wake up when the sun comes up and go to sleep when the sun sets. Even a few hundred years ago, when the sun set there was darkness around us relatively. However, with electricity that changed, now the world around you was illuminated even at night. Combine that with the popularity of digital devices and screens available to you 24/7, you can see why so many people complain they don’t get quality sleep. You see, digital screens emit blue light, and when you see blue light your body thinks it is daytime and as such doesn’t trigger the hormones that would otherwise make you feel sleepy.
On the other hand, it affects your eyes directly. In the past, your exposure to blue light was limited to only sunlight. But now with digital screens you are overexposed to blue light and it affects your retinal cells. The damage builds up and as you age it increases your risk of conditions like age-related macular degeneration. Similarly, it also increases your risk of cataracts and other eye conditions including eye cancer.
Indirectly, exposure to blue light affects your body’s sleep cycle. When you don’t get proper sleep, it affects your eye health with problems like burning sensation, irritation, and inadequate production of tears. These inadequacies lead to an increased risk of conditions like myopia. And if that’s not diagnosed in a timely manner can lead to complete blindness. All of this for just scrolling your phone in bed. These effects don’t happen overnight, but if you can’t change your habits, they do damage your eyes slowly and the effects start showing as you start to age. So, what’s the solution? The solutions are simple lifestyle changes you can make to reduce the harms of blue light on your eye health. Let’s take a look at some of the best ways you can naturally and technologically protect your eyes from the effects of blue light.
The 20-20-20 Rule: An Easy Technique to Counteract Digital Eye Strain
The 20-20-20 rule is one of the easiest and best ways to counteract digital eye strain. When you are working for long hours or just binging content for hours, it takes a considerable toll on your eyes. Given how movies are being made now with everything being pitch black, you don’t even have a choice but to sit close to your screen and set the brightness at max if you are expected to see even the tiniest bit of what’s happening.
The 20-20-20 rule dictates every 20 minutes you sit in front of a digital screen you should look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds, and remember to blink too. This exercise is designed to help you minimise the eye strain that comes from looking at screens all day. Now obviously you have a few questions so let’s answer them.
- How do you remember to do this every 20 minutes? Well, you can set an alarm or you can also use a reminder on your laptop or computer to remind you every 20 minutes.
- How do you know what’s 20 feet away? Well, let’s just say that you don’t have to measure and look at something that’s exactly 20 feet away. You can just look out of the window if you have one near you. If you don’t have a window near you look at any object that’s the furthest from you. The effort counts that you are doing it, even if it is not exactly 20 feet away, it will still count.
- Why 20 seconds? That’s a good question. It is because it takes 20 seconds for your eyes to completely relax. But you don’t have to aimlessly look out the window for 20 seconds. You can hydrate yourself if you need to at that time. You can also drink green tea during that time. This is because green tea helps with lubricating your eyes and better production of tears. Plus, staying hydrated ensures your eyes will be hydrated too, reducing the effects of digital eye strain on your body.
So, those were the questions that are generally associated with the 20-20-20 rule. And even though it can be a bit intrusive when you are working with a focused mind, it does have good intentions and effects for your health. When you are looking at screens, it reduces the number of times you blink normally from 15 per minute to almost half of it.
This reduced blinking causes dry eyes and dry eyes strain. So, this exercise is there to help you not strain your eyes. This is a great starting point but as you can imagine, people won’t generally be able to follow this diligently all the time, that’s why there are other solutions too. Technological solutions. So, let’s take a quick look at them.
Filters, Glasses, and Apps: Technology to Protect Your Eyes
Apart from the 20-20-20 exercise, there are technological tools too that can help you protect your eyes. There are three distinct products namely screen filters, blue light blocking glasses, and mobile apps. All these things have the same effect. They block out blue light from entering your eyes and help you manage the eye strain and all the other health concerns that come with it. So, let’s take a look at how they work individually and their form factors.
Screen filters are physical filters that can be used to reduce the blue light emissions from your screen. These filters are available for all digital displays starting from your laptop to your kindle and tablets. The filters are just like screen protectors, you put them on and they eliminate all the blue light out of your screen. In the past they used to be giant glass filters which you would have to hang on top of your CRT monitors, but now thanks to technology, they can just be applied and removed as you please.
Blue Light Blocking Glasses
These are perhaps the most common blue light protection that most people use. Nowadays regardless if you have eye problems or not, you can get glasses and lenses that protect you from blue light. Blue light blocking glasses are best used when you are working on computers for long hours. These glasses often also offer UV protection which is great as it doubles up as glasses you can wear outside and protect your eyes from harmful UV rays from the sun. These glasses are also available in almost any style and design, so they can be used as a fashion accessory too.
Nowadays mobile and even laptops and computers come with an integrated feature called night light or night mode. If you don’t have that, you can use external apps. These apps add a tint to your display and block out a majority of the blue light that is normally emitted from the screen. The apps also have a timer option so that they switch on automatically once the sun has set and shut down when it’s morning. They are the easiest ones to use because you don’t have to carry them around or put them on or anything. Once installed they automatically protect your eyes especially at night.
While it is very easy to take these measures, in the course of life, people often forget to integrate them in their life. And as a result their eyes are damaged and sometimes even beyond repair. With these simple preventive measures you can ensure your eyes are safe from unnecessary strain and you can preserve your vision as you age. To learn more about vision therapy and natural solutions for common eye problems check out Sanjeevan for perfect eyesight. We specialise in non-invasive and holistic treatment of all types of eye problems. Check out our website to learn more about our treatments and services.