8 Ways To Reduce Blue Light Exposure & Protect Your Eyes
The amount of time you spend staring at your phone or computer screen can feel almost impossible to quantify. In 2019, phones have become virtual extensions of people's hands, which is why it's so important to pay attention to the risks of all that screen time, too. If you're one of the millions of people across the world who spend a lot of time on your phone, then it's crucial that you find ways to reduce your blue light exposure along the way.
Naturally, concerns around blue light exposure have risen as technology becomes more ubiquitous — to the point that California has declared Oct. 10 as Blue Light Awareness Day. With the announcement came a new state Senate resolution from California, which acknowledges the many health risks of blue light exposure from digital screens, and encourages continued awareness, prevention, and research around the topic.
California State Senator Dr. Richard Pan is working with Eyesafe, a company that creates technology to help keep people safe from blue light exposure, to raise awareness and encourage other states to do the same. And to help mark Blue Light Awareness Day, Eyesafe released a new handbook that explains the risks that come along with blue light exposure and what we should be doing to mitigate them. InvisibleShield, a tech company that sells phone screen protectors, is also backing these efforts. You can read the handbook in full here.
As Eyesafe CEO Justin Barrett explains, the issue is becoming more and more relevant. "The trend on screen time use just keeps rising," he tells Bustle. "We’re above 11 hours per day of screen time in 2019." So, here are eight ways you can work toward reducing your exposure to blue light on a daily basis:
Choose Lightbulbs With A "Warm White" Tone
As noted in the Eyesafe handbook, it's not just phones or computer screens that emit blue light. You also need to think about display screens on products like refrigerators, and lightbulbs too.
To solve the lightbulb problem, Eyesafe suggests you buy lightbulbs that have a "warm, white" color tone." In contrast, you should avoid lightbulbs whose brightness is described with phrases like "daylight" or "cool white."
Stay Away From Your Phone Near Bedtime Hours
According to Harvard Health, blue light exposure in the hours leading up to bedtime can directly interrupt your body's circadian rhythm. In turn, this affects your sleep quality, and might even contribute to other more serious afflictions. As a result, you should try to avoid screen time entirely in the hours leading up to bed. Swap out your evening Instagram scroll for a book, and you might feel a world of difference in the morning.
"The best thing to [start doing] right now is take a break two hours before bedtime," Dr. Gary Heiting, an eye doctor and Eyesafe Vision Health Advisory Board Member, tells Bustle. "That would be a good first step, at least to prevent you from having sleep issues."
Use Glasses That Block Blue Light
One great option for minimizing blue light exposure is wearing protective glasses whenever you're looking at a computer screen, like during your work hours. For example, Blokz blue light glasses are customizable, have virtually clear lenses, and have a special coating that helps prevent blue light and UV rays from passing through to your eyes. There are also options from Warby Parker and Felix Gray, too.
However, before you purchase any eye glasses, Dr. Heiting suggests you read a bit into what percentage of blue light the glasses are protecting you from, exactly.
"One of the problems has been to date that there’s no standards, nationwide or internationally, as to ‘does this product meet a certain standard that’s been identified based on research,'" he says. He also notes that Eyesafe has created its own set of standards, which you can read about here.
Use Software & Apps That Tone Down Blue Light Levels
There are plenty of apps and software options available so that you can look at your phone or computer in the evening without feeling blasted by blue light. For example, F.lux is a software that automatically adjusts your computer's display as it gets darker outside, so that the display doesn't feel as bright.
Buy A Screen Cover For Your Laptop
You always have the option of buying a screen cover for your laptop as an option for filtering out blue light. If you and your co-workers all are tired of that eye strain, you can split a three-pack of blue light screen filter covers for $23. There are plenty of options available on Amazon for any size screen.
As for your phone, InvisibleShield offers iPhone screen protectors that help block blue light. In addition, there are options to change the color temperature of your phone display, as explained below. Dr. Heiting also notes that Dell has recently integrated many of its products with Eyesafe technology to decrease blue light exposure; so you can also start looking out for products that have built-in blue light prevention tools, too.
Use The Night Shift Setting On Your iPhone
If you have an iPhone, you can always use the Night Shift setting, which adjusts the color temperature of your phone display to make it less jarring to your vision at night. All you have to do is go to "Settings," then "Display and Brightness." You should see the option for Night Shift there.
Set Screen Time Hours & Hold Yourself To Them
The best thing you can do for your eyes (and your overall mental and physical health) at the end of the day is to cap your screen time to a daily limit, and hold yourself to that limit. If you have an iPhone, you can use the screen time function to keep track of which apps you spend the most time looking at and set limits from there.
Contact Your Lawmakers & Advocate For Blue Light Regulation
Regardless of which steps you take to protect yourself day-to-day, there are certain aspects of blue light exposure that you can't totally avoid.
That's why regulation is so important, Barrett says. "We believe that asking people just to cut back on their screen time, while well-intended, is not realistic," he explains. "Devices need to be made safely, and there needs to be awareness around that and regulations to match it."
It's also worth remembering that, as scary as these risks seem, there are also solutions out there. "Manufacturers are already addressing this topic," Barrett points out. Examples include the many options for blue light-focused eyewear, and the Dell blue light technology advances.
If the short and long term risks of blue light exposure bother you, then the first thing you should do is obviously take preventative measures to protect yourself, like the ones mentioned above. But you can also reach out to your representatives in D.C. and let them know you support California's resolution and want to see others like it.
Dr. Gary Heiting, eye doctor and Eyesafe Vision Health Advisory Board Member
Justin Barrett, CEO of Eyesafe