The pandemic has left us relying on technology more than ever before. If you’ve seen your screen time shoot up in recent months, you’re not alone.
Many people already relied on a laptop or PC for work purposes, but it’s become our main way to shop, socialise and learn, too. You might be wondering what all this time in front of screens is doing to our health.
Among the most well-documented effects is blue light, which is emitted from almost every electronic screen in your home. It impacts your sense of sight in the short term, with eyestrain and impaired vision regularly mentioned.
Blue light can also directly affect our circadian rhythms, making it more difficult to get a good night’s sleep. A Harvard Medical School article suggests it may even contribute to health issues like cancer or heart disease.
Using screens for too long probably won’t directly lead to a serious diagnosis, but it’s worth taking some steps now to prevent issues from escalating in the future. Without further ado, here’s how to reduce blue light exposure while using your PC.
Reduce your screen time
This is the most obvious solution – spending more time away from screens will undoubtedly reduce your exposure to blue light.
iOS, macOS and Android all have dedicated screen time features built into the operating system, but the situation on Windows is slightly more complicated. Microsoft tracks it via its Family Safety portal – this is designed to help manage children’s time online, but can also be used by individuals.
If you’ve identified excess time that you’d be willing to spend on another activity, great. If that’s not possible, the other steps in this article may be able to help.
Turn on low blue light settings
The next thing to try is even easier to activate. All four operating systems mentioned above have their own blue light filters, which give the displays warmer hues and reduce exposure. This is known as ‘Night Shift’ on Apple devices, but the name on Android varies by manufacturer. Some call it ‘Reading mode’, ‘Night mode’ or simply ‘Night light’.
The latter is how it’s known on Windows, with all offering options to schedule times for it to turn on and off. This is great if you need to use your PC late at night.
For a step-by-step guide, check out our tutorial on how to use a blue light filter across all your devices.
Get blue light blocking glasses
Adjusting settings and your usage habits can only go so far. If you’re serious about reducing your blue light exposure, we’d recommend getting a pair of dedicated blue light blocking glasses. While there’s relatively little research regarding their effectiveness, but some professionals do say they can reduce eyestrain.
Read more in our separate guide: Do you need computer glasses?
You can buy a pair on Amazon for under £10/US$10, but you may want to spend a bit more on something of better quality. With that in mind, Glasses Direct in the UK and Gunnar in the US are popular options.
Get a low blue light display
If you want to give yourself the best chance of reducing your blue light exposure, you’ll need to upgrade the display you look at every day. Older screens are typically less efficient, meaning they emit lots of blue light while you use them.
However, some modern displays are able to limit the amount that makes it to your eyes, without tinting the screen towards orange and yellow hues. US company EyeSafe specialises in this area, and has a list of products that meet its strict entry requirements.
These include Dell’s latest XPS range of laptops, alongside HP Spectre convertibles and Lenovo’s Yoga Slim 7i Pro. On the monitor side, Acer and Gigabyte join the previously mentioned companies in making Eyesafe certified displays.