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Blue Light: What Is It And How Can We Reduce Its Impact?

While it can be difficult to reduce screen time, we can easily exert more effort into taking care of our eyes

Let’s get real: It’s been a hot minute since you last set aside your smartphone or put away your laptop. Given we’re still in quarantine, it’s not that hard to imagine why. Most of our work is now digital; it’s Zoom, Google Docs, Slack, WhatsApp, and whatever other software you use from 9-5. And when we’re off the clock and ready to unwind, we’re still glued to our gadgets. The new episode of that K-drama? The e-book that came highly recommended? That e-numan scheduled for the weekend? That post on a friend’s Instagram feed? They all require a pretty significant amount of screen time.

While it can be difficult to reduce screen time, we can easily exert more effort into taking care of our eyes, which undergo strain when exposed to blue light. Blue light is simply light with blue wavelengths. There is an inverse relationship between the wavelength of light rays and the amount of energy they contain—rays with long wavelengths contain less energy, and rays with short wavelengths contain more energy. Blue light falls into the second category, and is emitted from gadgets and fluorescent and LED lights.

Blue light isn’t actually a terrible thing. It boosts alertness and memory retention, assists cognitive functions, and elevates our mood. Daytime exposure helps regulate our circadian rhythms, helping us maintain a healthy sleep cycle. On the other hand, there’s a lot of talk about how increased exposure to blue light is bad for us at night. Any light can affect our sleep quality, but blue light, in particular, has the ability to suppress melatonin levels. The eyes aren’t too good at blocking blue light either; virtually all blue light passes through the cornea and reaches the retina.

Given this information, how do we go about protecting our eyes? Thankfully, it’s not that complicated—all it takes is a few conscious lifestyle choices and a couples of much-needed purchases.

1. Avoid looking at bright screens two to three hours before sleeping. We all like to scroll using our smartphones until our eyelids droop. Making sure Night Shift mode (for IOS) or Night Light mode (for Android) is activated, or installing a third-party app that filters out blue light (Twilight, Bluelight Filter for Eye Care, Night Owl, etc.) will prove helpful.

2. Reduce screen time. If and when you can—or take frequent breaks to give your eyes much-needed rest.

3. Get a pair of computer glasses. These yellow tinted lenses block blue light, helping ease digital eyestrain by increasing contrast. Vision Express, JINS Philippines, and OWNDAYS are just some of the stores that carry these. There’s always Shopee and Lazada, too, if you want more affordable alternatives.

4. Purchase a blue light screen protector. These work the same way the glasses do, but are applied to the screen instead of being worn by the user. The company Ocushield specializes in this, but as with the glasses, you can also find them on Shopee and Lazada.

5. Get your eyes checked regularly. Don’t forget to schedule that appointment with your eye care specialist! Experts recommend going for a comprehensive eye exam done every two years (or more often if you’re above 60 or have vision issues).

Banner photo by Alec Favale on Unsplash