You’re a “safety first” type of person. You wear sunscreen even on days when you’ll be indoors. You always wear your safety belt when you’re in a car. The batteries in your smoke detector? You just changed them.
At Stoggles, we see you, fellow Safetynauts. We admire your efforts to reduce your risk of unnecessary injury or accident, but as connoisseurs of safety ourselves, we must point out you’re missing one crucial precaution: digital screen safety.
Never fear, your non-caped heroes of vision safety are here. We’ll explain what you need to know about digital screens, blue light, and other intrusive light forms, and also what you can do to ensure your eyes are safe from all these sources.
What Is Eye Strain?
We’ve been on screens for a few decades now, and with an increased push towards cyber commuting, we’re unlikely to put our screens away anytime soon. That’s both a good and a bad thing — good for helping us stay productive and work from virtually anywhere, bad for our eye health.
Eye strain is a common eye condition experienced by virtually anyone who works a computer screen or spends time in a digital setting. Eye strain can include symptoms like:
- Dry eyes
- Eye fatigue
- Eye pain
There’s even a more intense version of eye strain, called computer vision syndrome, which can lead to more pronounced eye strain symptoms as well as headaches, shoulder pain, back pain, and neck pain.
Maybe it doesn’t seem like a real threat. Sure, you’ve had sore eyes from staring at a computer monitor for long periods of time, but it’s nothing a few artificial tears and a good night’s sleep couldn’t fix. The problem is, over time, the screen could interfere with your sleep, making it even harder for your eyes to get the rest they need.
What Is Blue Light?
One of the biggest concerns screen time presents is blue light exposure. Blue light is part of the visible light spectrum. Similar to UV light, it has short, high-energy wavelengths. Blue light is emitted primarily from the sun, but it also comes to us from tablets, computers, smartphones, LED televisions, and light bulbs. Because we rely so heavily on digital devices, our exposure to blue light is nearly continuous.
This isn’t just about digital eye strain, though. Blue light can reach the retina, just like ultraviolet light. We know that UV light is damaging to the retina and can lead to conditions like early onset macular degeneration and cataracts. What we don’t know is the extent of the damage that blue light can do. Long term, could it lead to the same kinds of issues? Maybe. Here’s what we know so far.
Blue Light and Eye Strain
Blue light contributes to eye strain. Staring at a device, you naturally blink less, which can lead to less lubrication on your eyes. This leads to dryness, discomfort, and, of course, eye strain. Anti-glare screen protectors and brightness settings on your device can help, but they aren’t the best you can do. We’ll leave that cliffhanger there, so keep reading.
Blue Light and Circadian Rhythm
A good night’s sleep can fix a million problems, but blue light exposure ain’t one. In fact, exposure to blue light will probably hijack your sleeping patterns and make it harder for you to get the rest you need.
Your sleep cycle works on circadian rhythm. Your circadian rhythm is governed by light. When the sun comes up, your circadian rhythm responds by cranking out hormones like cortisol to help you wake up. At dusk, melatonin is released to prepare you for sleep.
If you’re still engaged in computer use or watching an LED television before bed, your circadian rhythm gets mixed signals. The bright blue light that passes into the retina can interfere with your natural clock and cause your body to release “awake” hormones instead of “get sleepy” hormones, making it harder for you to fall asleep and stay asleep.
The solution? It’s multi-fold.
How To Keep Your Eyes Safe From Screens
It probably goes without saying: we aren’t going to toss our screens in the garbage. So how do we keep our analog eyes safe in a digital world? The American Academy of Ophthalmology has some recs.
Use the 20-20-20 Rule
You might have heard of this rule before. For every 20 minutes you spend on a screen, take a 20-second break to look at something 20 feet away from you. This helps give your eyes a break, increases your blinking, and helps lubricate your eyes.
If you have trouble remembering to do this, we suggest placing an object of interest 20 feet away from you that will grab your attention. We do not suggest placing your Star Wars figurine collection in the adjoining cubicle at your office.
Keep Safety at Arm’s Length
When using digital devices, keep them at arm’s length. It’s also a good idea to adjust your seat and/or your workspace so that you are looking downward at your screen instead of up. This can reduce the amount of neck and shoulder pain you experience.
If you can’t adjust your seat or desk, try to at least keep your screen at eye level so you aren’t looking upward (or downward) and craning your neck.
Keep Eye Drops Handy
When your eyes are dry, closing them, blinking, and yawning can help increase your tear production and move tears across your eyeballs. However, when you are having a hard time keeping your eyes lubricated, use artificial tears.
As long as you are using lubricating eye drops, they are accepted as safe to use anytime you need them, and you don’t have to worry about them being damaging to your vision.
Use Your Computer’s Screen Settings
Adjusting the brightness of your computer screen can help keep your eyes safe. When you’re sitting in front of a computer screen, it should be slightly less bright than the surrounding light. This is especially important to remember in the evenings.
Switching your smartphone to night mode, adjusting the screen brightness on your monitor, and being aware of the amount of light in your room can help you avoid eye strain and fatigue.
Get Regular Eye Exams
If it’s been more than a year since you’ve seen your eye doctor, it’s time to go in for a checkup. Your optometrist can ensure there have been no changes to your vision that require a new corrective vision prescription and can also help you make sure you’re taking the best possible care of your eyes.
Go Screen Free Before Bedtime
It might seem like the perfect way to unwind, but scrolling social media or watching TV can have a profound (negative) impact on your sleep.
Aim to unplug at least an hour before bed. Opt for a book instead, or listen to soft music. You’ll sleep better, and your circadian rhythm will function properly.
Grab Some Blue Light Glasses
One of the easiest and best ways you can protect your eyes is by using eye protection, and that includes when you’re in front of a screen.
Maybe you already own a pair of computer glasses, but the real question is: are they protecting you from blue light?
Blue light filtering eyeglasses have a special compound that helps them filter out blue light to keep your eyes safe. Stoggles, for instance, have a proprietary and state-of-the-art blue light-blocking compound injected into the lenses at the time of manufacture.
Blue light glasses make it easier to keep your eyes safe than installing a screen filter on all your devices or even adjusting their brightness levels.
While you’re keeping yourself safe from the screens in your life, make sure you’re taking your eye care seriously by ensuring your eyes are safe all the time.
All Around Eye Safety
You might not break out the safety glasses unless you have to operate a power tool, but there are numerous reasons why safety eyewear is an everyday essential. Tasks like:
- Yard work
- Home improvement
- Cleaning with chemicals
- Playing games like tennis, baseball, or pickleball
all present a risk to your ocular health. Don’t worry. You don’t have to wear those bargain bin safety glasses while playing ultimate frisbee at your next cookout. You can Stoggles. Stoggles keep your eyes safe and your style intact. Every pair comes with:
- ANSI Z87.1-2020 certification, to make sure your eyes are protected from strikes and scrapes.
- Anti-fog coating, so you can transition from hot to cool like a boss.
- Side and top shields, to ensure the areas at the top of your glasses and on your temples are safe.
- UV blocking lenses, because blue light isn’t the only intrusive light your eyes are exposed to.
You get the safety you need, all wrapped up in unique frame styles like cat eye, aviator, round, square, and rectangle, and in colors that are unexpected and anything but drab.
Options: We’ve Got Them
If you need prescription lenses, we can handle it. Just upload your prescription to our website, and we’ll create a pair of Stoggles for you with your specific vision correction prescription. We also offer UV-responsive lenses (Stoggles Dimmers®) that keep your eyes shaded in safety when exposed to UV light and return to clear when the light is gone.
Stoggles: Protection for Your Digital World
Keeping your eyes safe from screens is important, especially if you plan to keep using digital media for the foreseeable future. Stoggles makes it easy and stylish for you to keep your eyes safe while you scroll.