From TV and tablets to cell phones and other devices, U.S. adults spend a lot of time online. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, screen time was almost 12 hours a day. Then during the pandemic, it surged with American consumers increasing their screen time nearly 60 percent.
All of that digital exposure, known as computer vision syndrome, can cause significant issues like headaches, stiff necks, and tired or sore eyes, as well as sleep interruptions.
“Spending most of our day in front of these screens puts our eyes through a lot of wear and tear,” says Caroline Dubreuil, product marketing manager for EyeBuyDirect, a prescription glasses online retailer.
Devices emit blue light, technically known as blue-violet light, a specific wavelength of light from the visible light spectrum. That blue light could be harmful too. The National Sleep Foundation says blue light increases alertness, delays the body’s production of sleep-inducing melatonin, and resets the body’s clock, which can make tech device users feel sleep deprived.
According to board-certified sleep specialist Michael Breus, Ph.D., of www.thesleepdoctor.com, blue light suppresses melatonin production more than twice as long as other light wavelengths and also alters circadian rhythms by twice the degree.
“Interference with the body’s 24-hour circadian rhythms can have a significant effect on health, creating problems with the cardiovascular, metabolic, and immune systems, disturbing mood, and compromising cognitive function,” he says. “When your circadian rhythms are out of whack, you think, feel, and perform below your best — and over time, your health can be put at risk.”
Blue light exposure
While the sun is the main source of blue light outdoors, indoor exposure comes from digital devices which emit significant amounts of blue light. Even though the amount of blue light emitted from devices doesn’t compare to the blue light from the sun, it adds up.
“Our eyes let in a good amount of blue light that goes right through to the sensors in our eyes and can bring about the symptoms of digital eye strain,” says Dubreuil.
Reducing digital eyestrain
As the “new normal” settles in, consumers need to monitor their tech time and find ways to reduce eye strain. It’s particularly challenging now during the current crisis and stay-at-home orders, when most people have increased their screen time for a variety of reasons, including working from home, connecting with family and friends, and, in many cases, home-schooling through distance learning.
Simple habits like powering off devices before bed; reducing screen brightness; and increasing your blink rate can help eye strain. Practice the “20-20-20 rule” too: every 20 minutes focus on an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
Blue light glasses
Many consumers are also investing in blue light glasses to help manage potential digital eye strain and make screen time more comfortable.
“Incorporating the use of blue light filtering eyewear is one of the easiest ways to protect our eyes, especially since we are not always able to significantly reduce screen time,” says Dubreuil.
The glasses are designed to filter out a portion of harmful blue light, which may ease sore or tired eyes and headaches.
EyeBuyDirect, which owns their entire process from concept and design to manufacturing, prides itself on more affordable and accessible eyewear. They offer 2,000 frames with prices starting at $6, as well as 2-day shipping on prescription glasses.
The company is also donating thousands of kids’ eyewear with non-prescription blue light-blocking lenses to families in need and by keeping them informed on how to help maintain the best eye health for family members.
“Part of being affordable and accessible to everyone means getting eyewear to customers as quickly as possible, especially during this crisis when people are staying at home,” says Dubreuil.
To learn more, visit EyeBuyDirect‘s official website.