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How and Why to Protect Your Eyes From Digital Eye Strain Caused by Blue Light

Digital Eye Strain sometimes referred to as Computer Vision Syndrome is a vision condition that results from continued looking on a computer screen without blinking your eyes. Due to the prolonged eye focusing on the computer screens, mobile phones screen, or tablet screens the focusing power of the eyes' lens gets impaired over time. If you heavily use computers and smartphones then you may experience eye problems like headaches, eye dryness, eye itchiness, sleeplessness, difficulty in getting up early in the morning, and burning sensation in the eyes.

All digital devices including computer monitors, smartphones, and tablet screens emit high energy blue light. Digital devices use blue light to brighten their screens thereby releasing high energy in form of blue light. Blue light has a short wavelength which means it has high energy and it is the only light ray after UV rays that can penetrate a human eye back to the retina.

Computer Vision Syndrome

However, not all blue light is bad for the eyes. Blue light between 380nm and 470nm is known as bad blue light while blue light between 470nm and 500nm is actually good for the eyes. This range of visible blue light is beneficial because it provides natural reflexes protecting eyes from light overexposure, and helps with the body’s circadian rhythms, and helps cognitive and memory function. But finally, too much of anything is not actually good for you.

Sun's Blue Light vs Blue Light Emitted By Digital Devices

You may be thinking that Sun also emits blue light then why it doesn't damage our eyes. The Sunlight is actually white light which consists of seven colors. These colors are collectively known as VIBGYOR (Violet, Indigo, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange, and Red). These all colors make up the Sun's white light which also has blue light starting from 380nm. Besides having a bad blue light spectrum the Sun doesn't hurt our eyes much as compared to the digital devices.

The answer is simple, suppose you are playing cricket on a sunny day. As a fielder, you will see that all your teammates are standing at distant places on the field. So, in the cricket game, you just have to focus on the ball and your teammates. Most of the time a ball will be at different places and in the hands of different players. This distance can be more than 10 feet. So you are actually focussing on distant objects and the principle says that when you focus on a distant object your eye muscles will do it easily without getting strained.

Also, your eyes are constantly changing objects, as a result, the Sun's blue light. And because of dust particles and a large number of objects around us the Sun's blue light gets highly scattered. So the Sun's blue light has almost no effect on our eyes if it isn't a very hot day or you are not wandering in a desert while reading an offline or bookmarked version this article.

But the blue light emitted from the computer screens and smartphones is not the same as of the Sun's light. Blue light from the smartphone screen will not scatter just like the Sunlight does. And more amount of it will enter your eyes because the focusing distance is just mere inches and your eyes keep on focussing same object (like text) for a long time. As a result, your eye muscles will have to work harder to focus on the screen that is few inches away. This results in eye problems like dry eyes, itchy eyes, headaches, insomnia (difficulty in sleeping), and difficulty in waking up early in the morning.

So that was enough science to teach you the bad effects of blue light. Now we will see how can we block the blue light emitted by our computer screens, smartphones, and tablets.

How to Block Blue Light on Android

Android nearly holds 87.5% percent of the global smartphone market share. So, Android smartphones are more responsible for damaging our eyes by emitting blue light. You can download blue light filter apps from the Google Play Store. When you use your tablet or smartphone in the night then enable the filter to prevent blue light from damaging your eyes and disturbing the wake-sleep pattern of your body. Blue light makes the brain more active so if your eyes consume it at night then you will have trouble in sleeping. Here's a good article for using and installing a blue light filter on android.

Some smartphone manufacturers like Xiaomi and Huawei provide their own light filters as a part of the phone's OS. You can find this option in the display settings. For Xiaomi go to 'Settings>PERSONAL>Display>Reading mode'. For Huawei go to 'Settings>Display>Eye comfort'.

How to Block Blue Light on Windows 10

Windows 10 has a built-in blue light filter. This setting is known as 'Night light'. Go to 'Settings>System>Display'. Under 'Brightness and color' click 'Night light settings'. Then click 'Turn on now'. Adjust the color temperature that suits your eyes.

How to Block Blue Light on Mac OS

Even Apple's Mac OS has this built-in functionality and you can use it to protect your eyes. On Mac, this feature is known as 'Night Shift'. To open night shift on Mac, follow the steps below.
  • From the Apple menu, launch System Preferences.
  • Click on Displays.
  • Click on the Night Shift tab.

Adjust the color temperature between less warm and more warm. Set the color temperature to that value which doesn't hurt your eyes. I think slight warmer colors will be best for screen viewing.

Tips to Prevent Digital Eye Strain

A blue light filter is not enough to prevent the Digital Eye Strain. Besides using the filter you may feel pain or dryness in the eyes. So below are some tips to prevent the Digital Eye Strain or the Computer Vision Syndrome.
  • The top of the computer screen should be at the eye-level to make the viewing angle between 20 and 40 degrees. It should not be greater than 35 degrees. Avoid tilting the monitor screen.
  • Reduce the screen brightness when working for long hours.
  • Use the 20-20-20 rule. This means make your eyes focus on an object for 20 seconds which is 20 feet away every 20 minutes.
  • Keep your eyes blinking. Blinking the eyes will prevent dryness and overexposure to blue light. Blinking will force the eyes to refocus the objects.
  • Relax your eyes for at least 5 minutes every day by closing your eyes. Then make a clockwise circle by slowly rotating your eyes. The perform the same exercise in an anti-clockwise direction.
  • Walk out in Sunlight for at least 10 minutes and focus on distant objects.

Digital Eye Strain is a common problem that affects a large number of people worldwide. At present, it is not possible to imagine a world without our computers and smartphones. And prolonged screen viewing will definitely work out our eyes in a negative way. So take the responsibility of saving your eyes today from Computer Vision Syndrome and also let others know about it. 

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