If you’re finding yourself staring at screens from nine-to-five (and then some), you’re in fabulous company. According to a recent Upwork survey of 1,000 hiring managers, 41.8 percent of the American workforce remains remote as of December 2020. And while there are certainly some perks to living the WFH life, the back-to-back Zoom meetings and virtual happy hours are surely doing a number on our eyes.
“Excessive screen time puts a lot of stress and strain on the eyes,” says Brad Brocwell, O.D., an optometrist and Vice President of Clinical Operations for Now Optics. “Consistent visual stress could cause a permanent reduction in distance vision.”
Research supports a need to power down our technology, but it’s not necessarily an option with so many workplaces still closed. A 2020 study published in Ophthalmic Epidemiology analyzed survey results from over 900 respondents about their eye strain during virtual classes and work. Researchers noted an increase in screen time during the pandemic, and concluded that people need to limit overall screen exposure to reduce the “epidemic of eye strain.” Easier said than done, right?
About Blue Light
In addition to the stress of focusing on one thing for long periods of time, there’s another issue at play here. Brocwell explains that blue light—the high-energy light emitted from devices such as smartphones, tablets, TVs, and computer screens—is considered the source of many of our screen-related problems.
“Blue light is a color of light on the visible light spectrum with a shorter wavelength,” says Brocwell. “Evidence shows that increased exposure to blue light can lead to harmful effects, such as an increased risk of some eye diseases and the disruption of sleep.”
But not all hope is lost when it comes to protecting your peepers. There are a few simple steps you can take to help relieve some of that strain.
How To Protect Your Eyes
“Adjust the lighting on your computer to reduce glare, give your eyes a break with the 20-20-20 rule (every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds), and make the effort to blink often so your eyes stay lubricated,” says Brocwell.
Another easy win for worn-out eyes: blue light glasses. “Blue light glasses have specially crafted lenses that block blue light exposure from your computer, tablet, or smartphone screen,” says Brocwell.
Interested in trying them out? Here are three big benefits of blue light glasses.
1. They May Relieve Eye Strain
Do you deal with constant headaches or feel like you’re squinting at your screen? Many people working from home are experiencing the same. In a recent study published in Jobson Informational Services Optical Research, 73 percent of eye-care professionals noticed more patients having issues due to screen time, such as aches and pains.
“Symptoms of digital eye strain include eye fatigue, dry eyes, headaches, blurred vision, and neck and shoulder pain,” says Brocwell.
While there isn’t much research showing that blue light glasses can prevent eye strain, wearing the lenses can create more contrast (one’s ability to distinguish an object from its background) within your vision, which blue light reduces. This reduction in contrast can inhibit your ability to detect changes in brightness, creating a “glare” effect and possibly leading to blurred vision, says Brocwell.
2. They May Help You Sleep Better
Experts recommend thinking twice about bringing your screens to bed. But if you just can’t change your ways, blue light glasses may help you catch some quality Zzzs.
Blue light messes with our sleep by delaying the production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for allowing us to snooze. Case in point: A 2018 review published in Chronobiology International found that exposure to blue light in the evening or morning affects the circadian phases of melatonin, making it more difficult to regulate our sleep-wake cycles.
Blue light glasses may prevent any feelings of alertness caused by the suppression of melatonin and may avert any headaches to help you to wind down more easily for bed, says Brocwell.
3. They’ll Help Protect Your Retinas
Continuous exposure to blue light may heighten one’s risk of developing macular degeneration later on in life, suggests a 2018 article published in the International Journal of Ophthalmology. Macular degeneration is an age-related eye disease that deteriorates the retina, which contains our photoreceptor cells, according to Harvard Health Publishing. As a result, your eyesight may worsen over time.
Macular degeneration is linked to genetics, age, and family history, according to the National Eye Institute. However, blue light exposure can further retina damage. That’s where blue light glasses come in.
Though there’s not much human research yet, a 2018 study published in Plos One exposed mice to no light, light, and light with a blue light filter for seven days to determine photoreceptor damage. The researchers found that the blue-blocking filter significantly decreased damage to the photoreceptor cells despite exposure to the blue wavelength.
Blue Light-Blockers to Try
Interested in trying blue light-blocking glasses for yourself? We love The Book Club Anti-Blue Light Glasses for their sleek look, BPA-free material, and anti-blue light lens coating, which alleviates up to 30 percent of light emitted from digital devices.