5 ideas for helping employees reduce blue-light exposure

Whether your team is in the office, working remotely or doing a little bit of both, they likely spend many hours looking at blue-light-emitting computer or smartphone screens.

People now spend an average of 13 hours per day using digital devices, according to a report. All that screen time may affect their health – both now and in the future – and perhaps even the productivity of your organization.

“It’s hard to avoid the use of digital devices at work and at home,” said Lori Archer, CEO of UnitedHealthcare Vision. “While the reliance on computers and smartphones is an essential part of modern life, it’s important to consider ways to help reduce the potentially harmful effects of all the blue light emitted from those devices.”

Why is it important?

Blue light is a short-wavelength, high-energy light that may have the potential to damage the eyes over time. The sun is the largest source of blue light, but computers, smartphones and other digital devices also emit it. Researchers continue to evaluate the potential health implications that may come from too much exposure to blue light, including sleep problems and various symptoms that are collectively called digital eye strain.

“Excessive blue-light exposure is of particular concern because of how close the user’s eyes typically are to screens and for how long, as is the case for many people with computer-based jobs,” Archer said. “That’s why it’s important for managers to understand how they may be able to help team members reduce the risk of health issues associated with excessive exposure to blue light.”

Here are five ideas for helping employees who log a lot of screen time:

1. Share information about healthy computer use

Consider reminding employees to increase the distance between their eyes and their screens. Avoid long sessions in front of screens by encouraging the 20-20-20 rule. After 20 minutes of computer use, stop and focus on something that’s at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds to give your eyes a break. Also, try to reduce blue light exposure from screens at least 1 hour before bedtime.

2. Focus on clear computer screens

Encourage clean computer screens to help improve display readability. In addition, consider making available screen filters to help employees reduce their blue-light exposure when using computers or smartphones for work. All of UnitedHealthcare Vision members can get a discount on Eyesafe® Blue Light Screen Filters to retrofit existing smartphones, tablets, laptops and computer monitors.

3. Invest in advanced technology

Some laptops and computer monitors now have built-in technology designed to help filter out blue light without diminishing the viewing experience — and you may be eligible for discounts on them. For instance, millions of UnitedHealthcare Vision members can get a discount of up to 20% on Dell XPS laptops with embedded blue-light-filtering properties.

4. Encourage comprehensive eye exams

Squinting while looking at screens, discomfort or dizziness may all be signs of eye problems that can be identified during a comprehensive eye exam. Even if there are no warning signs, starting in their 20s, adults should get a baseline eye exam. After that check, your eye care provider can suggest how often to do future exams.

5. Offer vision plans with additional resources

By offering your employees a vision plan, your employees may be able to save on glasses with blue light filtering lenses and  anti-reflective coating. This may help protect against potentially harmful blue light and glare, both of which can contribute to digital eye strain symptoms

Go deeper

Download a complimentary copy of the Eyesafe e-book “How to Save Your Eyes in the Digital Age: The Handbook on Blue Light, Screen Time, Health and Electronics,” which includes information about the potential near-term and long-term risks arising from excessive screen time and blue-light exposure.

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