Have you ever thought about how did we manage our daily life before having tablets or smartphones? These electronic devices, including laptops, command our attention in work, relaxing, and play. A study released by Deloitte found that Americans collectively check their smartphones upwards of 8 billion times per day. On average, Americans across all age groups check their phones 46 times per day, according to Deloitte. Also, on average, Americans spend about five hours daily browsing the web, social media, and using apps. Adding all the screen time, including accomplishing daily work tasks at the computer, does take a toll on our eye health.
As our usage of digital devices increases exposure to blue light and more people develop digital eye strain in our society, it is helpful to know what science tells us about safe digital screen exposure. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, it offers valuable information about the effects of blue light and its damage to your eyes.
What Is Blue Light?
Color doesn’t typically come to mind when thinking of light, but you see the visual light spectrum when you see a rainbow. These are colors visible to the human eye that include red, blue, green “wavelengths.” All light we see combines these wavelengths, including light from the sun and computer screens.
Blue Light and Sleep
Exposure to blue light from the sun and our screens boosts mood and alertness like sunrise signals to our brain that it’s time to wake up. Still, too much exposure to blue light from screens in the evening can disrupt our body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, which is known as the circadian rhythm. Light slows the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone in our body. Here are a few tips for more restful sleep:
- Set devices to a night or dark mode in the evening. This setting lowers screen brightness, and its warm colors are less likely to confuse your body into thinking it’s daytime.
- Avoid using screens one to two hours before going to sleep.
Too Much Screen Time? May Cause Digital Eye Strain
Staring at digital devices for a long time can cause temporary discomfort. Every person experience eye strain in various ways, but symptoms can include:
- dry eyes
- blurry vision
- watery eyes
The one reason why many suffer from digital eye strain is that they blink less when they stare at their digital devices. Humans’ blink rate is 15-20 times per minute, but this range is cut in half when staring at screens. To reduce digital eye strain, follow these simple tips:
- Take frequent breaks by using the “20-20-20” rule. Every 20 minutes, look away from your screen and look at an object 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. Breaks from your screen give your eyes a chance to reset and replenish themselves.
- Use artificial tears to lubricate your eyes when they feel dry.
- Keep your distance. Sit about arm’s length from your screen and adjust its height, so you’re looking slightly downward at it.
- Reduce glare and brightness. To reduce glare, consider a matte screen filter for your device. Adjusting the brightness and contrast of your screen and dimming the lighting near your screen can also help reduce eye strain.
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References: American Academy of Ophthalmology The content is researched and vetted by the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Optometric Association. This blog provides information and discussion about eye health and related subjects. The content provided on this blog and any linked materials are not intended and should not be considered medical advice. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, they should consult with an appropriately licensed physician.