Long meetings are a necessary evil in most careers. Now that so many people are working from home, meetings have transitioned from in-person to online video calls. Hours and hours spent staring at your screen can strain your eyes. Every device emits blue light, which the sun also emits.
"Blue light is actually important. It's actually healthy for us; it wakes us up. There are a lot of beneficial properties. But these devices operate heavily on these wavelengths," said Dr. Robert Steinmetz, an optometrist at Solo Eye Care in Chicago. "The blue light on our devices is much less intense than the sun, but we also aren't 25 inches away from the sun for eight hours a day."
There's not enough data on the long-term effects of staring at our screens for hours, but it does significantly reduce how often people blink per minute, which can dry out your eyes. Looking at your phone all night can also create sleeping problems, messing with your circadian rhythm, the body's internal clock.
Here are five tips on how to protect your eyesight.
Abide by the 20-20-20 rule
It's important to take breaks. Steinmetz recommends the 20-20-20 rule. "Every 20 minutes on the computer, you need to look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds," said Steinmetz. "And this is shown to help alleviate eye strain and reduce stress on your ... system. That's an important one, especially for kids."
Watch out for your kids
Kids could be learning from home right alongside working parents. Increased screen time means making sure they're getting enough sleep since blue light can keep us awake.
"All of us that have children are just experiencing what it's like to have e-learning," said Steinmetz. "The most important thing as a parent is to make sure your child gets adequate sleep. We know that these devices operate in a blue-light range that can suppress melatonin. If you're going to suppress melatonin, that's been shown to give you poorer quality sleep."
Night mode really helps