Digital Glare: Combating Light Sensitivity From Your Devices

1:47 PM

You know that feeling -- the ache behind your eyes, the heavy feeling of your eyelids, the redness and under eye circles you see looking in the mirror, and that intense sensitivity you get when you look at bright lights or step outside of your workplace and venture outdoors.  This feeling of light sensitivity and tired eyes has a name -- digital eye strain.  For 65% of Americans digital eye strain is wreaking serious havoc on work performance, and how your eyes feel when you're not logging those long hours at your computer and cell phone screen.  The average American spends nearly 6 hours a day using mobile digital devices and almost 11 hours daily when you include time on desktop computers, laptops, and watching TV!  Our eyes struggle adapting to light after logging long hours in a digital environment for two big reasons:

  • We don't blink as much. Blinking is essential to keeping the surface of our eye hydrated, but we blink about 50% less looking at a digital device than we do when in normal conversation. If the eye is too dry, you will experience redness, watering, vision fluctuations, stinging, burning, and light sensitivity.  Think of your tear film as a protective coating, not dissimilar to enamel on a tooth.  Without a good tear film coating, our corneal nerves are exposed to the elements, and they fire like crazy when they encounter things like natural sunlight or fluorescent lighting. A dry eye will water excessively when you encounter bright lights, and you will often get a burning or stinging sensation in bright lights too.

    Look at your computer or cell phone in a dark room.  What color light do you see coming off the screen?   That's the high energy blue light that's getting so much press for causing sleep cycle, vision and light sensitivity issues! via

  • Digital devices emit high energy blue wavelength light. Ever noticed the bluish glow emitting from digital devices like your computer or even fluorescent overhead lighting?  All digital devices emit high energy visible light (HEV) which in high amounts can disrupt pupillary constriction, sleep/wake cycles, and even increase the risk for ocular diseases like macular degenration.  What does that mean to you?  Our pupils constrict when exposed to brighter light to minimize the amount of light that enters your eye.  Blue light disrupts pupil constriction, confusing the system so that it doesn't react as quickly or as greatly to other light sources, which in turn leaves you wincing in the glare.  Delayed and irregular pupillary function can also make it much harder for you to focus between near and far, meaning that you will have a much harder time focusing clearly to drive home at night after a long day at work. And then when you try to go to sleep, the blue light you've been exposed to at higher than normal levels has been signaling your body all day to stay awake.  That means you'll have a much harder time getting enough hours of restorative sleep and an unrelenting "tired eyes" feeling even when you wake up the next morning.  Not to mention more pronounced under eye bags and red eyes when you get that first morning look in the mirror.  

What can you do?
Luckily there are great products out there that are specifically geared to reducing your sensitivity both while looking at the screen and when you step away into normal indoor and outdoor light.  My go-to choice for digital device users with light sensitivity is Transitions XTRActive.  For years Transitions have been associated with sunglasses for outdoor wearers, but here's how they work even better in my opinion for indoor light sensitivity:
    Transitions XTRActive in brown is nearly-clear indoors (can you see the tint above?), but has just enough tint to provide relief from the glare emanating from your screen that will keep your eyes blinking more normally, and reduce that light sensitivity you start feeling after a few hours. via
  • Light Tint Indoors  I love the XTRActive brown for a barely-there indoor tint that protects your eyes from fluorescent lighting and the glare coming from your computer screen and cell phone.  In the past we've used yellow tinted computer glasses like GUNNAR lenses for a similar effect, but the yellow tint totally colors your vision yellow, and of course looks yellow to everyone else too.  The XTRActive tint is so subtle that no one is going to look at your glasses and think they are anything other than clear.  And you'll see clearly out of them too.
  • Full Tint and UV Protection Outdoors  You know the worst glare is when you get up from your computer, and then step outside for lunch.  If you don't have sunglasses to immediately change into, you're relegated to suffering.  XTRActive lenses fully darken outside, and are the best Transitions to date at darkening behind the car windshield.  That means you're protected all day without needing multiple pairs of glasses.  I especially love the XTRActive lens for that sensitive dawn and dusk commuting time where the sun is blasting you head on or through your rear view mirror, but it's too dark to see clearly through full sunglasses.
  • Industry Leading Blue Light Protection The best glasses for anyone with daily digital device use have to reduce the side effects of excessive HEV blue light exposure.  All Transitions products are innately blue light protective.  Transitions Signature VII blocks 20% of HEV blue light indoors, and XTRActive is an impressive 34% blue blocking indoors.  You can couple this with great blue blocking anti-reflective coatings like Crizal Prevencia for the best indoor protection against blue light available on the market today.
Want to try the product out for free to see if it works for you?  You can get a free trial decal for your glasses here.

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  1. I also use this app on my device to cut the blue light at night. I really like it!