Apple released a new update on their OS last month, which includes Night Shift—a feature that automatically changes the color of the screen into a warmer shade. It uses the device’s clock and geolocation to determine if the sun is setting in your area, which signals the right moment to shift the screen color into a tint that’s from a warmer end of the spectrum.
“Many studies have shown that exposure to bright blue light in the evening can affect your circadian rhythms and make it harder to fall asleep,” Apple said. As a result, the brand rolled out an iOS update that would lessen the impact of blue light to their users and wean them gradually to bedtime and hopefully, into a better quality of sleep.
Aside from quality sleep and reducing the impact of blue light to the body’s circadian rhythms, the Night Shift feature can also lessen digital eye strain and help limit the amount of blue light that goes through the eye.
What Blue Light Does to the Eyes
Blue light has the highest energy wavelength of visible light. It comes from the sun and digital devices like computer screens, tablets, smartphones, and other digital devices. Unlike UV rays, blue light is not easily filtered by the eyes and can penetrate the back areas of the eyes, which include the retina.
Blue light coming from digital devices is lower compared to what the sun emits. However, most of people’s lifestyles involve using these devices for prolonged periods in close proximity to the eyes, which can be harmful to eye health and vision.
Back in the day, when our society was not yet filled with technology, blue light wasn’t so much of a problem because people were only exposed to it when the sun was up. But with the advent of digital devices, people’s exposure to blue light increased considerably.
Today, children are exposed to blue light and more susceptible to its harmful effects. Much of schoolwork are done on computers and they are more exposed to digital devices during leisure time. Just the same, adults are also more prone to excessive blue light exposure because they use computers and other digital devices, whether at work or at play.
Below are some of the negative impact blue light can give to the eyes:
Digital Eye Strain
Digital eye strain happens when your blink rate drops because of long periods of time spent looking at computer screens. It is usually signaled by blurry vision after a long time of working on the computer or any screened device. Digital eye strain is common and usually temporary, but when left unaddressed, it may cause chronic problems in the long run.
Increased Risk for Macular Degeneration
As mentioned, blue light can penetrate through the eyes, which can result to damage in the cells found in the retina. This can result to changes similar to macular degeneration, which can lead to vision loss.
Blue Light Can Also Be Essential to the Body
Too much exposure to blue light is bad, but that doesn’t mean that we should avoid it at all costs.
Blue light is essential for the circadian rhythm, which is the natural cycle of sleeping and waking up. It help send signals to the body that it’s already time for some shut-eye or getting up for the day’s activities. However, it only becomes a problem when you’re exposed to high amounts of it, because too much blue light can cause a disruption in the balance of your circadian rhythm and may cause sleeplessness or feelings of being tired during daytime.
How to Minimize the Effect of Blue Light to the Eyes
Blue light will always be a part of our day to day life, but as stated, it can have harmful effects not just to the eyes, but health as a whole. To minimize its effect on the body’s biological clock, melatonin functions, and vision, here are some of the practical steps you can take.
- Limit exposure to blue light. The most obvious way to thwart the harm of blue light is to minimize your exposure to it. While it’s close to impossible to avoid blue light during the day, you can do something to limit your exposure during the night, especially before you go to bed. Blue light can affect your quality of sleep. Because eyes need enough rest to function well, blue light ultimately affects your eye health too.
- Follow the 20-20-20 rule, which states that for every 20 minutes, you look at an object at least 20 feet away from you for 20 seconds. The 20-20-20 rule is one of the easy and practical exercises you can do to prevent digital eye strain due to working long hours in front of the computer.
- Blink more. Another way to address digital eye strain is through blinking more. It helps avoid dryness and keep the eyes lubricated.
- Use protective lenses and filters. Consider using lenses that have anti-reflective coating that helps block blue light from sunlight and digital devices. Meanwhile, if you don’t need corrective glasses, you can go for eyewear that’s designed for using computers and digital devices. They are designed to optimize vision according to the distance from which you view your devices.
- Take advantage of Night Shift or apps that control or minimize the amount of blue light reflected by your device. If you own an iOS device, it’s best to take advantage of the Night Shift feature in Apple’s latest operating system. Otherwise, you can use the different apps available in the market today for controlling the amount or intensity of blue light coming from different devices.