BLOCKING THE BLUES

bright screen bad for eyesThere’s a growing body of research warning about too much blue light, the kind that comes out of our phone and computer screens. In short, it appears to be bad for the eyes. It could lead to macular degeneration, headaches, wrinkles and other problems. It can also make it harder to fall asleep if you use your device at bedtime. Bob feels it’s like staring into a light bulb.

Part of the light in the “blue” wave lengths is useful in daylight but disruptive at night. There’s a free app called “Bluelight Filter” for Android users that filters out the blue light on phones and tablets. The filter intensity is adjusted to the sun cycle based on your local sunset and sunrise times. It’s already been downloaded more than a million times.

For iPhone/iPad users, Mac owners and PC users, there’s a similar app called Flux, available free from justgetflux.com. Like the other app, it also adjusts your screen as soon as darkness falls and has been downloaded about 50,000 times.

Another way to go is to add a thin plastic cover on your phone or tablet. There’s one called the “Konnet Care Vision Protective Shield,” $20 to $30 from KonnetOnline.com. It claims to protect your eyes from 99.99 percent of ultraviolet — the damaging part of the blue wave lengths. We tried it and noticed a significant difference after we put it on our iPad Mini; it muted the brightness.

The bright white screen problem goes all the way back to the first Macintosh, which had a white background (unlike the blue or black screen background of early PCs). Steve Jobs hailed it as just like reading or typing on a blank sheet or paper, but of course a sheet of paper doesn’t shine into your eyes and after a while becomes tiring to look at.

By the way, we came across an interesting comparison of the light we can see as part of the full electromagnetic spectrum — of which visible light is only a part: If the full spectrum were a line stretched across the United States, coast to coast, the part we can see would be about a half inch, located somewhere in Ohio.

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