WHAT IS BLUE LIGHT, IS SCROLLING INSTAGRAM GOING TO KILL ME AND OTHER VITAL QUESTIONS: ANSWERED.
So there has been a lot of buzz over the past couple of years about blue light. What even is blue light? I was curious, so I did some Googling. Blue light is a type of harsh-ish light that our poor eyeballs are being constantly exposed to in the form of lighting, televisions, tablets, smart phones, computers… In small doses it isn’t a huge deal, but over-exposure to blue light can cause digital eye strain, which can leave our eyes feeling dry and tired in addition to causing bad headaches and messing with our sleep cycles. Eye care providers are also concerned that, as the first generation in history to have THIS much exposure to sources of blue light, we are all at risk for macular degeneration which can lead to permanent vision loss.
Basically, researchers know that excessive blue light is bad, but because millennials are still young, they don’t know how bad. After learning a little bit about the risks, I began to research ways to limit my exposure to blue light. Here’s what I’m doing:
1. Being more intentional about my screen time. I spend eight hours/day staring at a computer screen, so when I come home, I’ve been working on doing things that don’t included binging Netflix or scrolling through the ‘gram. Embarrassing, but I’ve actually picked up knitting and I am really enjoying it. Stay tuned: as soon as I can figure out how to stop dropping half my stitches, my handmade creations will be hitting the blog. Books are another good option, as long as you aren’t reading on a tablet. I’m partial to downloading audiobooks from my local library and listening to them WHILE I knit. 26 going on 76, I know.
2. There’s this cool iPhone feature I recently came across called “Night Shift.” I initially thought it was a special, exclusive app only for people who work the night shift, but my FOMO was cured when I realized that it’s actually a feature that alters the colors of the phone’s display to the warmer end of the spectrum, thus less blue. My phone shifts to this setting between 9:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. and I swear I’m sleeping better in addition to getting less blue light. There are a lot of apps that serve this same function for all you hipster non-iPhone users.
3. I researched my light bulbs. Apparently, my budget friendly white LED bulbs emit way more blue light than any other type of bulb. I have since made the switch to warm white. Better for my eyes and much more flattering for taking selfies with my dog. Amazon also sells reduced-blue LED bulbs.
4. I’m not very good at this, but I’ve been trying to get serious about the 20-20-20 rule while I’m working. For those of you who haven’t heard of this, you’re supposed to use it when you’re looking at a screen for extended periods of time i.e. all day at work. Every 20 minutes, you should stare at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. My eye doctor says it reduces eye strain and will help your eyes to feel less tired at the end of the day.
5. I put a blink reminder on my computer monitor. It’s literally a sticky note that says “BLINK!” Apparently our blink rate goes way down while staring at screens and causes us to have dryer eyes and greater digital eye strain. I think the sticky note is helping because when I notice it, I blink for like 30 seconds straight just in case I haven’t been blinking enough. Not sure if this rapid, prolonged blinking is in any way helpful for dry eye, but it makes me feel like I’m being proactive.
6. Invest in a chic pair of blue light filtering glasses to wear when staring at a screen is completely inevitable. I got mine from Warby Parker. I took advantage of their awesome Home Try-On service, where they send you five different frames of your choice to try on from the comfort of your bathroom mirror, and it’s totally free. Once I had tried on all the frames/sent selfies of myself wearing them to all of my friends for input, I dropped my frames back in the mail and ordered the ones that got the most girlfriend votes. You can select to exclusively have blue light lenses put in the frames if you’re like me and don’t need a prescription lens. If you do have prescription lenses, they can add the blue light filter to your prescription glasses! I swear I noticed a difference in my eyes after only eight hours of wear. I always thought my lids were sagging at the end of the day because I wear three different kinds of mascara…. but I think it was digital eye strain!! So cheers to wearing all the mascara we want AND saving ourselves from future blindness.
Do you feel like your eyes are dragging at the end of the day? Do you have any tricks for minimizing eye strain?
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