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Let’s be honest – we spend most of our wake time staring at a computer or mobile screens and it’s hard not to.
Studies suggest that 60% of people spend more than 6 hours a day in front of a digital device.
However, that has a certain effect on us, most specifically on our eyes.
The total number of hours of exposure is cumulative and adds to the building up of visual problems.
In recent years eyesight issues are developed at a younger age, like nearsightedness, AMD, sleep issues, changes in color perceptions and headaches.
How can we prevent or treat the aftermath of our fast technology filled daily lives?
First, we need to understand how exactly our eyes are being affected.
Light is an electromagnetic wave.
It also has kinetic energy which is absorbed by your retinas when the light goes into your eyes.
Depending on how high that energy is it could seriously damage the eyes.
Don’t worry though you won’t disintegrate like in the sci-fi movies just by staring at your laptop for eight hours.
However, we shouldn’t think lightly of the process. Our eyes see the part of the light spectrum we call, obviously, “visible”.
Blue light has the shortest wavelength and the highest energy level.
Our main source of blue light is sunlight and we’ve evolved under blue skies that dictate our daily rhythm – as in when we should be awake and when asleep.
But since the rise of technology the artificial sources of blue light have become a vivid part of our lives.
Fluorescent lighting, LED lighting, display screens such as smartphones, tablets, computers, and flat-screen TVs are all around us significantly increasing our exposure to blue light.
Over time accumulated damage from blue light can increase risks of various eyesight related diseases such as cataract, muscle strain, eye fatigue and blurred vision.
During the day blue light boosts attention and mood but too much exposure to it at night can greatly disrupt our circadian rhythms – our natural wake and sleep cycle, memory and hormonal balance.
Now, we talked a lot about blue light, but you’re going to ask “what about all the other colours?”. Is only blue light bad for you?
Well, the short answer is kind of. To be honest, too much of anything is bad for you, but it’s long been discussed how the different colours affect our health and our psyche.
From a simple biological point, ‘good’ means ‘not stressful’ and that can make a big difference in our fast-paced daily lives.
Colour subconsciously affects everyday life.
Different coloured lightning is being used in fixing sleep patterns, curing jet lag and stimulating mental activity among other things.
Studies have also shown that certain colours can have an impact on performance on tests and exams.
As discovered by Sir Isaac Newton, white light disperses into the seven colours of the rainbow when it passes through a prism.
Let’s go through the rest of the colours from the spectrum one by one:
Similar to blue, indigo can cause stress to the eyes, however, experimental evidence suggests exposure to the spectrum range of indigo is much safer than regular blue light.
Violet and its ‘twin’ purple are often described as mysterious, imaginative and inspiring high ideals; it also generates feelings of wisdom.
Green is considered one of the most calming colours. It’s also the most visible and sensitive to the human eye which might be because our Sun’s spectrum peaks in green.
Green light can enhance learning and concentration. It is restful for eyes, causes the least amount of eyestrain and can also soothe migraines.
Yellow is a warming colour that brings up feelings of joy and sparks energy and mental activity.
Yellow is also the brightest colour in the spectrum which is closely related to contrast and how we can use brightness and contrast in our advantage.
Orange is the colour of friendship, enthusiasm and creativity.
It also helps in increasing mental activity.
Red is probably the best colour for our eyes.
It’s especially soothing which makes it the perfect computer background or ambient light.
So technically, less light is always better as it does less damage, right?
But we also need light to “see” things. What can we do to prevent severe damage to our eyes and brain?
All in all less screen time makes you healthier and happier, but if you can’t afford just not using your computer for eight hours a day, here are some useful tips for self-care:
Less light = less strain. Always adjust your brightness to be similar to the ambient light surrounding you, if it’s dimmer you are forcing your eyes to focus hence damaging the nerves to the brain.
The saturation and brightness of colors are connected to our emotional response to them. Of course, not everyone knows how to do this manually, which is why there are many apps and new software that does that automatically for you.
It has to be tilted slightly backwards and be at the level of your eyesight. Maintain a proper distance between your eyes and displays. Find out more about the screen position.
Blinking more frequently can also minimize eye problems – many people don’t realise that they blink less than normal when looking at a screen.
If you must – always do it with the room’s lights on. Try to say goodnight to technology at least two hours before bedtime.
Work for 20 minutes on screen, take a 20-second pause, during which go look at least 20 feet away (approx. 7 meters).
A healthy diet, high in green vegetables and colourful fruits helps increase levels of protective pigments in the retina thus limiting the damaging effects of blue light technology.
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In the end make sure you balance your digital life with healthy daily routines, good sleep and a lot of natural sunlight.
After all, our eyes are probably the sense we use the most and we must do our best to protect them.