SHINING THE SPOTLIGHT ON BLUE LIGHT
What is it? How does it affect us? And what are blu-blockers?!
If you’re a child of the 80’s, you’d remember BluBlockers – the sunglasses that block blue light, and reduce squinting. Their unique origins came from the space program, as astronauts needed eye protection from the strong radiation of outer space. BluBlockers were designed to not only block all ultra-violet (UV) rays, but all blue rays as well. Research at the time indicated many eye diseases were caused by the spectrum light waves. Blocking the blue light decreased the danger… and so, BluBlockers were born. While a lot has changed over the past 30 or so years , some things have not. Blue light and the effect it has on our eyes, for example, is a continual topic of conversation. This month, we’re shining the spotlight on blue light.
What is blue light and where does it come from?
Blue light is part of the visible light spectrum, that the human eye can see. It comes naturally from the sun and helps our body clocks determine when to do things, like when it’s time to wake up and to go to sleep. Blue light can also be found in a lot of modern technology; like smartphones, laptops, tablets, TV and artificial lighting.
What’s all the fuss about?
With the constant increase of screen time – particularly since the pandemic – more people are working from home and utilising technology to replace face-to-face meetings. This is evident even for our children, who have had to adapt to online learning, especially during lockdowns. Combined with the amount of choice we have for content these days, it’s no wonder we’re spending so much of our days (and nights) on our screens and devices. In the evenings, our natural body clocks are telling us to unwind and rest. Too much blue light exposure at this time, suppresses productions of our melatonin hormone (the one that helps us to sleep). As you’d expect, this can result in a poor night’s sleep. And we all know how much our bodies need sleep! The long-term effects of sleep deprivation are very real and can affect you physically and mentally. More on that another time…
Okay, so what can we do about it?
There are copious amounts of research about how we could all benefit from less screen time, as well as some great initiatives like ‘Phone Free Day’. Though we understand this can be easier said than done sometimes, as devices are a necessary part of our modern lives and how a lot of us earn our living.
Here’s a few things we can do to help protect our eyes:
1. Make sure you take breaks. We like the 20-20-20 eye exercise: every 20 minutes, look 20 metres away, for 20 seconds. Doing this simple eye exercise relaxes your eyes and shifts your focus, so you’re not always looking directly in front of you, at your laptop, for example. Stepping outside for some fresh air (and not switching one device for the other) is also always a good idea.
2. As well as reducing screen time before bed, you can also adjust the settings on your screen. Lots of devices these days have a night time setting, which changes the colour balance on your phone, tablet or laptop to reduce the amount of blue light you’re exposing your eyes to. Handy huh!
3. Blue light protection filters for your glasses. If you need to be on a computer, laptop or your phone for most of the day, we’d recommend blue light glasses. In the same way that we put on sunglasses when we go outside to protect our eyes, it’s important to protect our peepers when we’re using screens. Blue light protection filters do just that - filter out the blue light from all of our devices. Which means less eye strain and feeling more energised at the end of the day. You can purchase them separately or we can add them to your current prescription glasses.
4. Replace cooler/brighter (blueish-white) lightbulbs with warmer (more yellowish- white) lightbulbs.
If you’d like more ‘Tips for Good Vision in the Modern World’, click here.
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