Tip: Protect Your Eyes while Working at Home with Blue Light Filtering

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Last updated December 4, 2020

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Here is something that may not be obvious to you: Your eyes are critical tools in your work at home job or business. Without them, your ability to earn would be severely limited, if not impossible. Therefore, your eyes need to be protected in the same manner that you protect the rest of your body while working.

Why protect your eyes?

Your eyes need to be protected from the light being emitted from your computer screen. Whether that screen is on a monitor or a laptop, it is giving a type of light called blue light that can have negative effects on you and your eyes if you are overexposed.

What is Blue Light?

Blue light is one of the seven colors found on the visible light spectrum – the others being red, orange, yellow, green, indigo, and violet. Each color has a different energy and wavelength, with blue having a shorter wavelength and giving off more energy.

When these colors are combined, they create white light, like that from the sun. In fact, the sun is our main source of white light. And because light that appears white actually has more blue light than the other lights on the spectrum, the sun is our biggest source of blue light as well.

Where is blue light found?

Before the technology boom of the last few decades, humans received the most white light exposure from light bulbs and analog televisions (tube TVs). Before that, the highest exposure came from sunlight and fire sources. Since our lives have gradually become maintained by electronic devices, though, we are now exposed to white light, in effect blue light by the following sources:

  • Fluorescent light bulbs
  • CFL bulbs
  • LED bulbs
  • Flat screen televisions
  • Computer monitors
  • Smartphones
  • Tablets

In addition to the sun.

The Good vs. The Bad

Blue light is not an inherently bad thing. It is exactly like sunlight, which we need for its health benefits, but too much sunlight can cause damage to our health. A moderate amount of exposure to blue light is believed to have these effects:

  • Heightens alertness
  • Improves mood
  • Increases memory and cognitive function

But, overexposure to blue light is believed to be linked to the following issues:

  • Computer Vision Syndrome, also known as digital eye strain, is a condition that results from prolonged viewing of computer screens or smartphone and tablet screens. Those who have experienced digital eye strain usually describe general eye discomfort and vision issues after looking at digital screens for long periods of time. Some other common symptoms are blurred vision, dry eyes, and headaches.
  • Problems sleeping because blue light boosts alertness. We tend to use our smart devices at night near our bedtime, and it is believed that the light from those devices affects our ability to fall asleep. Decreased sleep then leads to increased tiredness during the daytime.
  • Possible eye damage because our eyes do not block blue light well. It passes through the lens of the eye directly to the light-sensitive parts of the eye in the retina. Too much blue light on the retina can cause the eye to age faster and lead to vision loss.

How to Protect Your Eyes from Blue Light

The average work at home employee spends a significant part of their day looking at a screen, whether it is a computer or mobile device. That means hours of blue light exposure daily. So how do you protect yourself from the potentially harmful effects? There are a number of ways to limit your exposure.

  • 20-20-20 Rule – Eye experts advise people that must view digital screens for prolonged periods of time to take breaks every 20 minutes and stare at something that is 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
  • Anti-glare screens – A thin screen likely made of plastic with a matte finish that decreases the amount of light reflected from the display. Recent models of laptops and computer monitors have these as standard features. However, anti-glare filters can be purchased for older models and attached to the screen of your device.
  • Anti-reflective lenses – A special coating can be applied to eyeglass lenses that can reduce the glare as well as block blue light from natural and man-made sources.
  • Blue light Blocking Computer glasses – Eyeglasses with yellow-tinted lenses for blocking blue light.
  • Clip-on Blue Light Blocking Glasses – A pair of lenses that can clip on to existing glasses for those who already wear eyeglasses for nearsightedness or farsightedness and/or don’t want to invest in another pair of glasses.
  • Blue Light Screen Filters – A thin tempered screen that can be attached to your laptop screen or computer monitor that blocks blue light. An anti-glare feature is often included. These types of filters are also available for smartphones and tablets.

Blue Light Filtering Technology for Computers and Mobile Devices

As concern regarding the effects of blue light as grown, IT engineers have designed programs for computers, monitors, and smart devices that can reduce the amount of blue light they give off.

Windows desktops and laptops that have the Windows 10 operating system already have the blue light limiting feature Night light available in their settings. Night light allows the user to set their display to produce warm lighting and use less blue light.

To access the Night light setting on your PC:

  1. Click the Windows icon in the bottom left corner of your screen.
  2. On the start menu that opens, click the gear icon.
  3. In the window that pops up, click system.
  4. The window will automatically open to the display menu. You can find the Night light settings under the Brightness and Color section. You can toggle the setting on or off and click on Night light Settings to adjust your preferences.

Mac desktop and laptop models from 2017 and later have Night Shift installed which shifts the display colors to a warmer state.

To access the Night Shift setting on your Mac:

  1. Click the Apple icon in the top left corner of your screen.
  2. On the menu that drops down, click System Preferences.
  3. In the window that pops up, click Displays.
  4. In the next pop-up window, click the Night Shift tab. Here you can turn the setting on or off and adjust the settings to your preferences.

Phones and Tablets

A blue light filter is a built-in feature on late model Samsung Galaxy smartphones. To access the settings:

  1. Tap and swipe down on the notification line at the top of the screen.
  2. Swipe down a second time to access the Quick Settings. You can see the Blue Light filter icon here. If the icon is illuminated, then the Blue light filter is currently on. If the icon is gray, then the filter is off. Tapping the icon once will turn the filter on or off.
  3. To check or change the settings, tap and hold the icon until a new settings page opens. Here you can adjust the settings to your preferences.

As with Mac computers, the Night Shift app is available for iPhones and iPads. To access the settings:

  1. Tap the settings icon on your home screen.
  2. In the menu that pops up, scroll down to Display & Brightness and tap.
  3. In the next menu that opens, tap Night Shift. Then check or adjust the settings to your preferences.

Final Notes

I spend more time in front of some type of digital screen than I do not being in front of a screen. So I take protecting my eyes seriously. My own personal Blue light filtering consists of setting my Windows PC to filter at all times as well as an anti-reflective coating on my glasses. I have 2 pairs – one for correcting nearsightedness and one for reading. I also have the Blue light filter on my smartphone turned on.

How are you protecting your eyes while working at home?

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