Our eyes are pretty amazing organs. We get to witness the outside world with them. Every day they are exposed to constant stimulation yet continue to work efficiently, for most of us.
The thing is, the stimulus that we are exposing our eyes to has changed drastically over the years. We are now in a digital age – A time where our digital screen time and lifestyle is slowing down our eye’s efficiency due to continuous stress on the eyes. One of the most common stressors to eye strain, blue light!
Visible light is defined by how long the wavelengths are and how much energy is produced. The longer the wavelength, the less energy is produced (safer), and the shorter the wavelength, the more energy is produced (potentially dangerous).
Here’s a quick breakdown on red light vs blue light:
- Red light, like from a heating lamp, is an example of a long-wavelength, low-energy light.
- Blue light, from digital devices like computer screens, phones, and TVs has the shortest wavelengths and is, therefore, the highest energy. Blue light is damaging to the eyes because, unlike other UV rays that are blocked by the cornea and the lens, virtually all visible blue light passes through and goes straight to the light-sensitive retina, causing damage that can lead to degenerative conditions and vision loss.
Naturally, we are exposed to small amounts of blue light from sunlight during the day, the damage comes when we have excessive exposure in front of electronic devices, especially at nighttime, which emits significant amounts of blue light. Staring at a screen for long periods of time can cause eye fatigue and other symptoms such as eyestrain, dry eyes, headache, fatigue, blurred vision, and difficulty focusing and sleeping.
A Harvard Medical School study found that blue light exposure at night suppressed melatonin production for about twice as long as the green light and shifted circadian rhythms by twice as much.
OK, we get it, there are 101 things you need to remember to do daily to maintain your health, and now you’ve got to think about how much time you’re spending staring at your screens? Before you panic, we want you to know there are some really simple things you can do to prevent the damage. Here’s how you can start:
1. Eat Foods For Eye Health
We love the saying “you are what you eat”! Some of the best foods you can include in your diet for eye health include:
- Dark Leafy Greens: The carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin are primarily found in green leafy vegetables, with kale and spinach topping the list of lutein-rich foods. Other healthy options include Swiss chard, collard greens, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. Lutein and zeaxanthin are both important nutrients for eye health, as both of them are found in high concentrations in your macula — the small central part of your retina responsible for detailed central vision.
- Orange Fruit & Vegetables: Think carrots, pumpkin, oranges and sweet potato. Eating a variety of these is going to give your body the nutrients it needs to maintain healthy eyesight. This is largely due to the high amounts of vitamin A, phytonutrients, vitamin C, lutein & zeaxanthin.
- Healthy Fats: Since many of the vitamins are responsible for eye health are “fat-soluble nutrients” – that are absorbed best when eaten with a source of lipids (fats). Pair these vitamins with something like omega-3 foods (like salmon), coconut oil, olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds for proper absorption.
2. Hello, New Computer And Phone Habits!
How much time do you spend on your phone, computer, or watching TV per day? Really think about this… It’s probably a lot more than you think. Young adults are spending about five hours per day on their phone, just their phone. If you work in front of a computer for eight hours per day, add that in plus whatever time you spend in front of a TV at night watching Netflix or FMTV 😉 That’s a fair chunk of your day!
Our tips: Take frequent breaks by looking away from the screen for 2 to 3 minutes every 15 to 20 minutes. Glare from digital screens can also have an effect on the eyes, so try to avoid overhead lights and use a desk lamp instead to control the glare that might come in from any nearby windows. Blue light blocker glasses are now widely available that can help filter the blue light coming from digital devices. You can also install blue light filters on most smartphones. Our biggest tip would be to challenge yourself to spend some time off your screen at night, especially 2-3 hours before bed – You may even notice a more restful nights sleep – Winning!
3. Change Up Your Lifestyle Habits
The smallest changes to our daily routine can help take stress off of our eyes. Start thinking about things like:
- Wear sunglasses: Find yourself outdoors for long periods of time? Wearing sunglasses can help to protect your eyes from excessive exposure to UVA and UVB.
- Stop smoking: No brainer here, but smoking cigarettes produces cyanide, which is damaging to the eyes.
- Hydrate your eyeballs: Hold up on the staring competitions and blink – blinking is actually our eyes way of Move Move your body: Turns out, being active isn’t just good for your booty! Although exercise is considered beneficial for overall health, it can also help support healthy vision. Aim to be active for 30 minutes a day to feel the benefits, this will also get you away from the screens!