During these times of quarantine, we’re not getting a lot of visual variety. Many people are trying to visit fantastic scenery, through their tiny digital screens. They’re gazing at those perfect photos of a perfect life (most likely, manipulated or an impartial picture) and dreamy, exotic travel destinations… Well, if that works for you psychologically, go for it! There’s only one problem — well, two — your eyes.
With the enormous (borderline addicted) use of technology comes the problem of excessive screen time and blue light. Blue light is just one color on the light spectrum. We are exposed to it daily: the sun and indoor lights both contain some level of blue light. By constantly watching TV, working on the computer screen, rushing to check on mobile notifications, and clicking around on tablets, we increase the amount of blue light we’re exposed to. And in this case, wearing blue light-blocking glasses might help.
Dr. Samuel Pierce, president of the American Optometric Association, told USA Today that he recommends using special blue light lenses in eyeglasses. They make it easier to look at a screen and aid the many symptoms associated with extreme digital use, such as irritated or tired eyes, strain, discomfort, blurred vision, and headaches.
Others are skeptical and consider these lenses to be a bit overhyped, a way of racking up the glasses bill with an extra line item.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology is the world’s largest association of eye physicians and surgeons. They say that eye strain is caused by staring at digital screens for too long. Basically, decreased blinking leads to dry eyes. But according to the association, these effects are “caused by how people use their screens, not by anything coming from the screens.” That’s why they do not recommend any special eyewear for computer use. Instead, they’re giving tips on how to protect your eyes from strain if you work on a computer for a living:
- You should distance yourself from the screen. Sit about 25 inches away from it, which may be about arm’s length (not always though, my husband has long arms). (Side note: you can always ask for an ergonomic assessment of your workstation if your company provides one. I never did at a previous employer as I wasn’t entirely sure what that is supposed to mean…)
- There are many matte screen filters available that reduce glare. (Many privacy screens have some anti-glare effect, too.)
- “20-20-20” rule. No, it’s not “spend $20 on clothes every 20 minutes for the next 20 days.” Every 20 minutes, look away from your computer at an object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. (Try not to just stare at a random co-worker, that would be weird.)
- Use artificial tears to refresh your eyes when they feel dry. (Alternatively, you could just cry when you’ve exhausted your monthly fashion budget but then notice that something really cute is on sale.)
- If you are wearing contact lenses, switch to eyeglasses to give your eyes some rest.
- Adjust your home and/or office lighting and try increasing the contrast on your screen to reduce eye strain.
Erin Lynn Sattler, a Community Life Director at Pacific Regent, Bellevue, WA, told WebMD that she started worrying when her vision became blurry while using the computer. Her doctor said that there was nothing wrong with her eyes. But they didn’t stop hurting…
So, after doing some online research, she decided to try blue light glasses, as it seemed like a low investment with the potential for high benefit. “Lo and behold, my eyes don’t feel as strained, my blurry vision is gone, and as weird as it sounds, my face doesn’t feel so tired after work,” Sattler revealed.
I spend a lot of time in front of a screen for work, which is necessary, but I also most definitely spend too much time on my phone! Eye strain can leave you feeling blurry and disconnected, even though the problem is you’re connected too much!
We are halfway through May and it’s so precious to see trees turning green again and so many flowers blooming. I had to make a promise to myself to look out of the window more often and to appreciate all the beauty around me. It’s real beauty, not digital, not curated or altered. And now I know that looking out the window is also good for my eyes. Wouldn’t it be nice to see the world as vividly as possible, particularly after we’ve spent so much time shuttered indoors?
For now, I have adjusted my computer settings for contrast and brightness. I’m keeping my healthy distance from the computer and other people. I’m also looking into a pair of special blue light lenses. Because, why not? Especially given that Clearly has a sale this month, with up to 70% off!!! (Yes, this is an affiliate link. Click on the banner to shop.)
Disclosure: LittlePinkTop is an affiliate marketer with Clearly.