For the health of your eyes, reduce your blue light exposure

A few months ago, I started getting regular headaches. It would happen at least a few times a week, usually after a day at work. I blamed it on my increased use of my eyeglasses and thought my prescription was incorrect.

So I asked my optometrist about it, and he had an answer right away; it certainly was not my prescription. My headaches were being caused by my computer screen, which emits blue light. Too much exposure to this particular wavelength can cause serious damage to your eyes, which are especially sensitive to blue light.

I was getting headaches at work because I’m on my computer almost the entire time! And it doesn’t help that I have two computer screens, one big enough to be my television.

My doctor tried to sell me on glasses that block blue light during computer use, and I really wanted to say yes for the practicality of it. But they looked so dorky! None of the styles he had available were stylish enough to attract my buying power, so I turned his offer down.

Instead, I found something better! It’s free software called flux that allows you to set the amount of blue light your computer emits throughout the day. I keep it simple and have it on my entire workday, and you can turn it off easily if you’re doing design work. I work on Photoshop a few times per week, so that feature has been essential. Even if you do more hours of design work than I do, flux will be a great help.

Even iPhone got on the bandwagon, and in iOS v 9.3.2, they installed what’s called “Night Shift” that does the same thing – blocks blue light. You can schedule it automatically, the same way you can schedule your Do Not Disturb setting.

It’s is pitched as a way to help you sleep better, but I have a personal rule not to look at computer or TV screens right before bed (30 minutes to an hour is a good buffer). Night Shift is great, but the discipline not to look at your phone for a lengthy period before bed is much more effective.

I’m sharing this information simply because most of us have phones for hands now, and many of us do a lot of work on computers. Let’s protect those eyes and keep their health for as long as possible, even in the SnapChat and Facebook age.