Around 2 or 3 in the afternoon, it’s time for what I call the Blue Light Special: my eyes feel dry and strained, sometimes accompanied by a dull headache. Like so many others, my workday revolves around my computer screen. The ‘handheld computer’ that I use to browse social media during my free time doesn’t help the problem either. Digital Eye Strain is no joke and affects about 80% of the population and is caused by the constant exposure to blue light. The good news is there are ways to protect our eyes from harmful blue light rays and relieve digital eye strain.
First, let’s talk about blue light. The light spectrum is made up of different rays of light: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. The rays on the red side of the spectrum have less energy and longer wavelengths while the violet side has more energy and shorter wavelengths. Blue light in particular, has a very short wavelength and produces high amounts of energy that can be harmful to eyes. Most people assume blue light comes from artificial lighting but the main source of blue light is actually the sun. While there isn’t much clinical research on the longterm effect of blue light on the eyes, there is speculation that it could do serious damage to the eyes down the road, not to mention the immediate effects are downright irritating! Luckily, there are a few ways to protect you eyes.
Blue light glasses can help protect your eyes from harmful blue light rays while using your computer, phone, tablet, etc. They have a slight yellow tint that blocks out blue light rays. Blue light glasses aren’t just for working hours. If you tend to watch TV or read on a tablet before bed keep those bad boys on! Exposure to blue light before bed can throw off the body’s natural circadian rhythm. According to a study by Harvard Medical School those exposed to blue light for 6.5 hours shifted circadian rhythms by twice as much as those exposed to green light for 6.5 hours. (3 hours vs 1.5 hours) .
Want to protect your eyes from within? Zeaxanthin and Lutein are two carotenoids found in the macula of the eyes that block blue light from reaching the underlying structures in the retina. Studies show that “eyes with more macular pigment were less likely to have or develop macular degeneration”. Green leafy vegetables contain both zeaxanthin and lutein but who wants to east barrels of kale everyday? Try taking a supplement like Xendurance’s Immune Boost . It contains 2mg of zeaxanthin and 10mg of lutein, as well as Vitamin C and Vitamin E, which are also beneficial to eye health. Added bonus, Immune Boost is a super potent multi-vitamin so you don’t have to take handfuls of pills every morning to get your necessary nutrients.
Digital Eye Strain can be reduced by ‘training you eyes’. Believe it or not, there are actually exercises for your eyes. Try this: every 20 minutes look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This is known as the 20-20-20 rule. It will help re-focus your eyes. Or, pick a spot on the ground at least 8-10 feet in front of you and trace a figure 8 with your eyes. Do this for about 30 seconds and be sure to alternate directions. Check out more eye exercises here. Eye exercises wont block any blue light rays but they can help strengthen and relieve your eyes.