The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a huge stir, disrupting many of our habits. Over the past several weeks, social distancing has made it so that many of us are more exposed to screens than usual. Whether you are relying on YouTube for your workout; using Zoom to hold meetings; connecting with friends through FaceTime; or watching all your favorite shows on Netflix – we are using more devices for a longer part of our day. This in turn is making our eyes work extra hard by focusing on all of these different screens and blue light is the worry.
Our main source of blue light is from the sun, but with the restrictions for outings in place due to the COVID pandemic, we may be exposed to more artificial sources that also emit blue light, such as digital screens, fluorescent and LED lamps, and flat screen TVs. Our eyes have a natural ability to block certain UV rays, but they barely block the blue light rays that reach our retina. When we expose our eyes to too much blue light, we can suffer from eyestrain (dry eyes, headache, glare), and our circadian rhythm could be disturbed, which can disturb our sleep. It would be unreasonable to ban screens from our daily lives, but we can be aware of how to use these devices more reasonably.
Follow these tips to help protect your eyes
Take Breaks and Rest Your Eyes
Try using the 20–20–20 rule throughout the day: every 20 minutes, look away from the screen and focus about 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds. This reduces eyestrain and helps your eyes (and you!) feel better at the end of the day.
Adjust the brightness on your screen to match the level of ambient light around you. You may also find it useful to increase the font size on the screen.
Keep Your Eyes Moisturized
Studies show we blink half as many times when we are reading or starring at a digital device. Blinking is the eye’s way of getting the moisture it needs on the surface. Dry eyes can feel irritated or itchy, if this is the case you may want to use over the counter drops to moisturize them or try a warm compress over the eyes for 5 minutes.
Get a Restful Sleep
Try to improve your sleep by allocating an hour of down time before bed time. That means shutting down all of your devices during this critical time before sleep. Blue light emitted from our devices has been found to increase energy and wakefulness thereby disrupting our natural circadian rhythm. Try reading a book or listening to a bedtime podcast that will help to slow the pace and calm your mind.
Our Optometry department remains closed at LMC, providing only emergency services, repairing glasses and delivering contact lenses. We are anxiously awaiting news from our College and Provincial Health Agencies as to when we will be able to open safely and provide our patients with the necessary services that they have been without for these past few months.
Rest assured however that while we have been closed, we have also been preparing for your safe return to our clinic. We will be in touch soon to schedule appointments and to outline all of the safety and sanitizing processes that will be in place. In the meantime, from all of us at LMC Optometry in Barrie, Brampton, Montreal, Ottawa and Thornhill, we wish you good health and we look forward to seeing you very soon.
For more eye health information please visit our web site: www.lmc/eyecare