Blue light, small spaces, & the detrimental effects working from home has on your eyes, explained

MS Explains: Should you rush out to buy blue filter glasses immediately?

Andrew Koay | Sponsored | November 16, 2020, 08:01 PM

Remember when working from home was still exciting and we were all relishing the prospect of waking up later and taking calls in our pyjamas?

Yeah well, it turns out that there are some downsides to turning your room into your office. I imagine most of us by now have experienced the inevitable blurring of lines between work hours and non-work hours.

There’s also the fact that many of us don’t actually have adequate office furniture in our homes, paving the way for backaches and neck strains galore.

I’m sorry to be all doom and gloom, but here’s one more thing we have to deal with: working at home can actually have an adverse effect on our eyesight.

Wait what?

Yep, think about your regular routine nowadays.

Some of us now spend the whole day cooped up in our rooms or houses, moving between bed and desk depending on what time of the day it is.

And according to Quek Swee Ting, a registered optometrist working with ZEISS Vision Care Singapore, there are two things from this arrangement that can have a detrimental effect on our vision.

1. Our increased screen time

Being away from our office means everything has to now be done digitally; meetings occur over Zoom while conversations with colleagues happen over WhatsApp.

When we’re not sitting in front of our computers, we’re probably scrolling through emails on our phone.

And while the wonders of technology certainly bring added convenience, constantly looking at screens can be quite a strenuous activity for our eyes.

Looking too closely at our screens (or anything really) works our eyes hard and after a while, strained eyes can trigger headaches, blurry vision, eye pain, or dry eyes.

Another thing to think about when it comes to increased screen time is the glare emitted from the screen — also known as blue light.

What exactly is Blue Light?

“Blue light is part of the visible light spectrum and can be found almost anywhere, with its largest source coming from the sun,” said Quek.

“When exposed to a high intensity of ultraviolet and blue light over a long period of time, it may cause damage to the retina.”

Located at the back of our eyes, the retina is in charge of processing the images that we see.

Image by Egor Vikhrev via Unsplash

The good news is, clinical studies have shown that screens don’t emit enough blue light to cause major damage to our eyes, BUT they can cause vision discomfort and aggravate eye strain.

However, not all blue light is bad for us, added the eye-sight expert.

“There’s also a part of blue light that is good and helps to regulate our circadian rhythm and our sleeping patterns.”

2. Our decreased reading distances

The other factor that can make working from home hard on the eyes has to do with the “cooped-up-in-your-home” bit of the new normal.

Back when we were still making daily trips to our places of work, our eyes would have had the chance to stretch their gaze and enjoy the scenes of Singapore.

Yet nowadays, as Quek put it, “we are hardly looking more than a room distance away”.

“(This gives us) little chance of relaxing our eyes’ muscles,” she said.

It means we aren’t getting the same kind of relief from eye strain that we might have had when we were leaving the home for work — think about the times you took a walk during lunch to buy food, or at the end of a long day when you’re staring out the window of the bus you take home.

Image by Andrew Koay

So what can we do to reduce eye strain?

Before you’re tempted to rush out and buy those blue filter glasses, while they do help to reduce glare from digital screens they don’t actually mitigate the eye strain felt from overworking the focusing system of our eyes.

Instead, here are some quick tips you can implement straight away for free.

The first is probably something you’ve heard before, but it is worth repeating because it is so simple and easy to do:

“It will be good to take regular visual breaks,” said Quek.

“A general rule of thumb would be the 20-20-20 rule. Look up from your phone every 20 minutes and look at something 20 feet (or six metres) away for 20 seconds.”

Another tip the eyesight expert recommended is to remind yourself to blink.

“We often get so caught up in the digital world that we forget to blink which can lead to dry eyes.”

If dry eyes persist, getting lubricating eye drops or artificial tears from an optometrist might be a good idea.

Image by Lilly Rum via Unsplash

Equally important but not so often thought of in relation to eye health is the role of sleep; it’s essential to relieving digital eye strain.

And that means limiting your screen time, especially before bedtime.

As mentioned earlier, blue light helps to regulate our circadian rhythm; exposure to it causes our body to release less melatonin — the sleeping hormone.

“It tricks our bodies into thinking it’s not time for bed, meaning to say we will be more alert and kept awake for a longer period of time,” explained the eye-sight expert.

What about the glasses-wearing folks?

For those wearing glasses it is important to schedule regular eye checks with your optometrist (that means at least once a year) to ensure that your prescription is up to date and adequate.

Uncorrected vision problems like astigmatism and presbyopia can be a contributing factor to digital eye strain, while under-corrected glasses will cause you to further strain your eyes if you are not able to focus clearly on the things that you are seeing.

The next level of eye-care

How about those wanting to give their eyes the next level of care?

Our eye-sight expert Quek said they might want to consider ZEISS SmartLife Digital lenses.

These help to reduce digital eye strain by correcting your distance vision at the top part of the lens while utilising a slightly reduced prescription at the bottom part to support comfortable reading vision.

“When reading at near distances, we do not need the full prescription or degree that we need for far distances,” said the optometrist.

By slightly reducing the prescription, SmartLife Digital lenses enable relaxed vision and outstanding visual acuity when you’re zoning-in on screens, making it easier for your eyes to focus.

According to an external consumer acceptance test, 73 per cent of users did not feel strained eyes at the end of the day, while the majority reported feeling less eye strain as compared to when they used their normal lenses.

“Basically, it allows our eye muscles to take a breather when performing near tasks,” explained Quek.

“It offers comfortable close-up vision, relaxes your eye muscles while maintaining sharp focus.”

Add to that the fact that all ZEISS SmartLife Digital lenses come equipped with full UV protection and with ZEISS DuraVision BlueProtect — a coating that helps to filter out harmful blue light coming off digital screen and the sun, and you have what Quek called the “perfect solution to digital eye strain".

ZEISS is partnering with W OPTICS in an exclusive promotion on ZEISS SmartLife lenses. Enjoy a $50 ZEISS SmartLife lens voucher when you purchase ZEISS SmartLife spectacle lenses along with an eye examination worth $25 from now to Dec 31, 2020, when you flash this post. Terms and conditions apply.

This promotion is available at the following W OPTICS Stores:

  1. Bedok Mall #01-81/82
  2. Compass One #02-48
  3. Great World #02-122
  4. Hougang1 #01-33
  5. JEM #02-23
  6. Suntec City #01-400
  7. Vivocity #01-143
  8. Wheelock Place #03-03

Find the store closest to you here.

W OPTICS is the fastest growing home-grown vision care centre in Singapore, providing optical solutions and products at the forefront of the industry. W OPTICS firmly believes in offering tailored vision care services that cater to the specific needs of customers, making each client’s visit distinct and exclusive.

The W EYExperience offers eye examination that is tailored to individual needs, ranging from standard to a premium comprehensive eye examination necessary for the tech-savvy generation to screen/diagnose different eye conditions or eye diseases. W OPTICS at Suntec City is still the largest optical store in Singapore till date.

Mothership Explains is a series where we dig deep into the important, interesting, and confusing going-ons in our world and try to, well, explain them.

This series aims to provide in-depth, easy-to-understand explanations to keep our readers up to date on not just what is going on in the world, but also the "why's".

Top image from Windows via Unsplash

At various points while writing this sponsored article by ZEISS, the writer took time to practise 20-20-20.