The Effects of Blue Light on IT Industry Professionals

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For IT professionals, working on digital devices while looking at screens can be an inevitable part of their job description. While working digitally can be speedy and convenient, however, there are some disadvantages to being exposed to these screens for long periods.

Recent research from the University of Liège in Belgium looked at results from an ultrahigh-field MRI to study how blue light stimulates the brain. Researchers found that blue-enriched light resulted in changes in participants’ pupil size, and that blue wavelength light affects ongoing non-visual cognitive activity. These non-visual activities affect physiological processes such as circadian entrainment, heart rate, body temperature, and alertness.

Of course, aside from IT professionals, many regular consumers are also impacted by exposure to blue light, as — on top of being mainly emitted by digital screens — it is also emitted from the sun. However, not being able to focus, sleep, or see clearly as an IT professional can result in hindrances at work. At the same time, this exposure is also inevitable due to the nature of the work. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the effects of blue light and some ways to combat its effects:

The effects of blue light

As mentioned above, prolonged exposure to blue light can be detrimental to one’s health and productivity as an IT professional. At the same time, some exposure to blue light is necessary and can be helpful. Blue light stimulates parts of the brain that make one feel alert, and some people have implemented blue light technology to help treat sleep disorders. Blue light can also help improve performance and attention.

However, this wavelength of light is emitted from various sources, including the sun, electronic devices, as well as LED and fluorescent lights. As such, overexposure can and has become a problem for many. Some studies have also found that exposure to blue light can elevate one’s body temperature and heart rate. At the same time, exposure to blue light close to bedtime can hinder sleep due to suppression of the body’s release of melatonin. Essentially, being exposed to blue light at nighttime can trick one’s brain into thinking it’s still daytime.

For IT professionals, this can result in a lack of focus at work, as well as decreased productivity. At best, blue light can lead to discomfort and an inability to do your work as effectively. At worst, overexposure to blue light can lead to pain, including eye strain, headaches, and migraines. Hindered sleep and poor sleep quality can also result in poor health outcomes, leaving one more vulnerable to illness.

Combating the effects of blue light

It can certainly be difficult to completely avoid exposure to blue light as IT professionals. As such, using preventive tools is essential. Wearing blue light glasses helps filter out blue light while looking at electronic devices, as well as provides UV protection and visual comfort. This allows one to focus on their screens for longer periods without leading to eye strain and other symptoms. Models like the EBDBlue also come with antiglare protection, making them ideal for those who do some of their work outdoors.

Aside from preventive tools, it’s also important to regularly rest the eyes when working on screens for long periods. The 20-20-20 rule is a commonly recommended practice, which involves taking a break from the screen every 20 minutes to look at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Aside from giving the eyes a break from staring and focusing on a screen for too long, it’s also a good reminder to blink and lubricate the eyes, preventing dry eyes.

Finally, employers also play a crucial role in combating the effects of blue light. By promoting work hygiene and safety, you can promote a culture that prioritizes employee health and safety against the harms and effects of blue light exposure. Employers can also use software and technology to help implement eye care and safety, such as built-in apps that alert users to take eye breaks in between work sessions.