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6 Easy Ways you can keep your Eyes Healthy while eReading

Posted by Bennington Grant

couple using hands to accentuate their eyes

Being able to carry hundreds of books wherever you go on your smart phone or tablet is one of the modern miracles of life today, but you need to be careful. Overexposure to the blue light emitted from these devices is giving some people a condition known as Digital Eye Strain (also known as Computer Vision Syndrome). This causes various forms of eyestrain including pain, dryness, fatigue and blurred vision. The good news is Digital Eye Strain is completely preventable! In this article, we will detail exactly how to enjoy your Ebooks without worries distracting you. First, we need to understand why screens are causing harm to our eyes.

Like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Digital Eye Strain is caused by repetitive motion affecting our eyes over and over again. Without us noticing, our eyes are straining to focus and refocus again on a screen with more contrast and glare than our eyes are used to. We are also exposing them to unusual amounts of blue light, something we will learn more about later. This problem usually becomes more prevalent in people over the age of 40, when the physical lenses of our bodies are a bit more warn down.

Man reading ebook on smartphone at night

Now, blue light, is the worst offender of all. The side effects of blue light emitted from devices can severely affect your life. Blue light is what gives your screen that pure crisp brightness, but exposure to it at night will confuse your eyes and disrupt melatonin. You have probably heard that reading at night is a good way to fall asleep, but if you enjoy it on a tablet or smart phone without protection, you are doing more harm than good. The short-wavelength light sends your brain signals that it is too bright to be night-time, causing insomnia. Lack of sleep leads distraction, loss of memory, and learning impairment. Repeating several nights of this will cause a neurotoxin buildup that makes it even harder to get to sleep in the future.

Happy couple using smartphone and tablet to read ebooks

With all that in mind, here are a few surefire ways to prevent overexposure to blue light and digital eyestrain.

1. Use Amber Light Apps

Amber light has a long wavelength that is gentle on your eyes. There are several free apps you can download for your smart phone or tablet that will switch your screen brightness to amber light at night, which will allow you to read strain free and sleep easier. Apple products such as iPhones and iPads now come with this feature built-in, and many android devices are following suit. Often, you can find this feature in your display settings. It will most likely be called “Night Mode” and give you an option for what time of night you would like it to activate. Similar there blue light filter applications available online such as Iris, Twilight, and Night Shift.

2. Get Specialty Eye Wear

Companies such as GUNNAR Computer Eyewear create amber light glasses, which filter most of the blue light out of your day-to-day light exposure, especially from the screens on the devices you use on a day-to-day basis. It may seem that protective eyewear is a bit extreme and nerdy, but it is a fact that 150 people interviewed about these glasses reported increased ease of viewing. 80% of the group reported their eyes felt less tired than usual. This is because amber light is much easier on our eyes and they are not forced to strain excessively.

3. The 20-20-20 Rule

Spending long periods of time staring at short distance is not something our eyes are inherently comfortable with doing. This problem arrived with the invention of books themselves, as before this men and women had never had much reason to focus intently on a particular area for excessive amounts of time. Now, it’s important to respect to your eyes biological desires, which is easy with the 20 (minutes)-20 (feet)-20 rule (seconds). Here is how this works. Every 20 minutes, take 20 seconds, to look at something at least 20 feet away. Something else you can do is the 50-10 rule, which states that you should take a 10-minute break from your screen for every 50 minutes you spend on it.

4. The Blink and Splash Method

Staring at our phones too much will cause excessive dryness. If you didn’t already know, blinking is our body’s way of providing moisture for our eyes. Therefore, blinking more frequently during device usage will help combat the dryness caused by blue light and strain. Your eyes automatically blink at their own pace, being conscious of blinking more often, or even blinking several times every page turn (or scroll down) will do wonders for creating the moisture your eyes need. Also, at the end of every chapter or two, splash your face with water from the sink. Your eyes will absorb this moisture.

5. Don’t Hold Your Devices Too Close

It’s never a good idea to get too close to something that is potentially dangerous; the same goes for blue light. Even if you are losing your vision, or just have trouble seeing in the morning, putting your phone close to your face to read better is doing more harm than good. Your eyes are already weak, don’t make them worse! Research shows the best distance for devices is at least 16 inches from your face. If you hold it that far and have trouble reading, grab your reading glasses or consider a meeting with the eye doctor.

6. Adjust Your Settings

Of all your settings, brightness, contrast, and text size are known to disturb your eyes the most. The extra danger with brightness and contrast is that it is harmful to have either too much or too little of each. Sometimes, it is easy to use your own senses to judge the necessary tones, other times, especially when you are rushed, not so easy.

Fortunately, there are many apps that will adjust your brightness and contrast to better suite your environment. Even if you feel that the display is too dim, avoid touching the brightness slider. The amount was chosen in the specific interest of your safety. Finally, go into your settings and increase text size if you are having trouble seeing. This will help you from staring at your phone too closely.

So, as you can see (no pun intended,) it’s important to make sure you are aware of the strain your eyes are under while using your computer, tablet or smartphone and the easy steps you can take to improve eye health.