The average number of hours an office worker spends in front of a computer screen is six-and-a-half. When you add in the number of hours most people spend on their phones, you can chalk up nearly 10 hours per day of screen time for the average American.
All of that screen time brings eye strain, headaches, dry eyes, and insomnia.
If you’re looking for help on how to cut down on those problems, try a pair of computer glasses — also called blue-light blocking glasses — which promise everything from eliminating eye strain to helping you sleep better.
It’s good to look for blue-light blocking glasses that block at least 90% of blue light. The darkness of the lens is one indicator of how much blue light is blocked out. Darker lenses are better at night and lighter lenses are better for daytime computer use.
Is staring at a screen for hours each day bad?
Probably. The concerns are digital eye strain and blue light exposure.
According to the American Optometric Association, digital eye strain is “a group of eye- and vision-related problems that result from prolonged computer, tablet, e-reader and cell phone use.” Those issues range from blurry vision and dry eyes, to headaches and neck pain.
By staring at screens all day, we’re exposed to blue light waves. There is conflicting evidence about how blue light exposure affects your eyes, but doctors and researchers agree that blue light does affect your circadian rhythm.
What is blue light?
All visible light we humans see contains the entire spectrum of the rainbow, from red to violet. Within that spectrum are blue light waves, which are said to help us stay alert and upbeat.
What gives off blue light?
Any source of visible light gives off blue light waves, whether it’s the sun, a touchscreen or a light bulb.
We get plenty of blue light waves each day from the sun, but after dark we’re still exposed to it from many artificial sources.
How does blue light affect sleep?
When the sun goes down, the lack of light signals our bodies to start producing melatonin, the hormone responsible for making us fall asleep.
Before Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb, the sun regulated our sleep schedules. But today, we’re exposed to light all day and into the night. While exposure to any light waves after dark delays our bodies’ production of melatonin, blue light waves can be especially problematic because they keep us alert. Doctors suggest we stay away from screens before bed to help us fall asleep faster.
Tips to reduce the side-effects of screen time
- Remember the 20-20-20 rule: for every 20 minutes at work, take a break for 20 seconds and look at something 20 feet away. This can help prevent end of the day fuzziness and help our eyes adjust more easily when we finally put down our devices.
- Blink: we often get so focused as we stare at our screens that we forget to blink. This can lead to dry and irritated eyes. Keep lubricating eye drops with you and apply them when needed.