Block Blue Light in an Increasingly Remote World
By: Dr. Scott Edmonds, Chief Eye Care Officer

With persistent spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 in Nevada and nationwide, some traditionally in-person activities – work, school and social interactions – will likely remain remote more often than usual for the foreseeable future.  As a result, the use of digital devices has surged significantly, with Americans logging an average of 13 hours per day watching screens compared to between seven and 10 hours per day before the COVID-19 pandemic. The increase in screen time contributes to more exposure to blue light and may cause short and long-term health implications, including potential damage to retina cells, increased incidences of age-related macular degeneration, disrupted sleep cycles and digital eye strain.  With that in mind, here are three tips to consider to reduce exposure to blue light.

1. Use the 20-20-20 rule or other rest tactics. With nearsightedness affecting 41% of Americans due in part to increased use of screens, it is important to give your eyes some rest during the day to help break up long stretches of screen time. The 20-20-20 rule recommends that after 20 minutes of computer work, people should take 20 seconds to look at something that is approximately 20 feet away.  Other strategies include keeping devices at least 30 inches from the eyes to reduce blue-light exposure and switching between tasks that do not require focus on something up close, such as returning a call or going for a walk.

2. Leverage blue-lightblocking technology. The introduction of bluelight filtering technologies like “night mode” on smartphones, specialized screen protectors and anti-reflective coated glasses may help reduce the risk of digital eye strain. For support, millions of UnitedHealthcare vision members have access to discounts on these types of resources, including a new program to help people save up to 20% on screen protectors and Dell computers with blue-light-filtering properties.

3. Get a comprehensive eye exam. It is also important to get an eye exam annually. In addition to providing the correct prescription lenses for optimal computer viewing, eye exams may help uncover other health conditions that are not usually associated with the eyes, including diabetes and some types of cancer.

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