If you're one of the millions of American knowledge workers who has to spend more hours than ever staring into a screen — or if you're turning to your phone or tablet more and more to get a break from the world in general — you're probably familiar with the headaches and eye strain that follow. Observing lockdown and social distancing doesn't leave us with a lot of options, whether for work or play. If you're looking for a quick fix you can pay for, though, some good news is on its way.
Researchers at Indiana University have just published a study looking into the real physiological effects of treated lenses that filter out blue light, the kind often emitted by computers and other screens. Blue light is one of the reasons you may feel jittery, achy, and unable to stop using a device for hours into the nighttime. It keeps your brain awake and alert when you want to be winding down. Glasses that reduce how much of it you take in, it turns out, really do reduce ill effects on your circadian rhythms, sleep habits, and next-day performance.
"Although most of us can benefit from reducing our exposure to blue light, owl employees seem to benefit more because they encounter greater misalignments between their internal clock and the externally controlled work time," said author Cristiano Guarana. Even if you're not able to nab a pair of blue light–filtering glasses, most computers and devices have a "sunset mode" or "night shift" function that increases orange light in your screens as it gets darker outside. These may be small changes, but the payoff in your daily life could be significant.