June 30, 2020
From the first stirrings of concern in early 2020, Americans have been discovering many ways our daily habits have made it easier for COVID-19 to attack our bodies. Some of the things we enjoy most have become activities we now need to avoid in order to discourage the spread of the virus. Hugs, handshakes, large gatherings and uncovered faces have become risky behaviors instead of the natural human contact we took for granted.
It is true that time spent alone is the safest when it comes to reducing your chances of contracting COVID-19. However, the amount of time we spend alone, or in small family groups mainly confined to our homes, has resulted in a noticeable increase in one risky behavior. It doesn’t pose an infectious threat, but can have a significant impact on our health nonetheless. The isolation and boredom caused by quarantine has vastly increased our dependence on and time spent with our electronic devices.
When we use electronic devices, we are exposed to greater levels of blue light. Your eye doctor may have already warned you about the dangers of overexposure to blue light, but we’ll do a quick recap here. Blue light is everywhere – even in sunlight. Blue wavelengths are at the high end of the light spectrum, right before UV light. Blue light is not always harmful. During daylight hours, natural levels of blue light exposure can improve reaction time, lift your mood and increase attention levels. It’s only been in the last few decades that humans have been overexposed to blue light waves, mostly through the use of electronic devices. The Vision Council reports that 200 million Americans show symptoms of digital eye strain (DES), eye discomfort caused by interacting with screens for more than two hours at a time.
Televisions, computers, tablets, cell phones and other appliances with screens all emit blue light. The more time we spend gazing at our screens, the bigger impact blue rays have on our health. Blue ray overexposure can cause eye strain, blurred vision, headaches, light sensitivity and red, tired eyes. Aching necks, shoulders and backs can also be attributed to long stretches spent with our devices. With many people using computers all day at work, then using other devices for communication and entertainment after arriving home, most can spend as many as 10-12 hours per day in front of a screen. This level of use not only causes our eyes to work harder, it also ages them more quickly. Studies also show that increased blue light exposure can disrupt natural sleep patterns, which can be a contributing factor to obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and other chronic ailments.
However, there are ways to dramatically decrease the amount of blue light waves that reach your eyes. The most simple - cut down on the amount of screen time per day. However, in today’s tech-dependent society, this may not be an option. Try the 20-20-20 rule at work and at home. When using a screen, pause every 20 minutes look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. You can also download apps or use the settings on your phones and tablets to “wind down” your blue light exposure by altering the display to use warmer colors for the hours you choose. Switch to warm white light bulbs instead of cool white or choose reduced-blue LED lightbulbs.
Your optometrist can also help you select non-prescription blue light glasses that not only protect your eyes, they lend an attractive (and smart!) edge to your look. Some styles are as flattering as the latest designer frames – and you don’t need a vision test to get a pair! At Pro-Optix Eye Care, we have one of the largest selections of blue light glasses in the Tanglewood/Galleria Area. Don’t let blue light overexposure affect your health – call us at 713-360-7095 today!
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