Every one of us are spending more and more time in front of screens. Whether it’s the 5 minute scan of emails before getting out of bed, the 15 minute scroll through social media while eating lunch, or the 2 or more hours spent staring at a computer while at work, our screen time is skyrocketing at an exponential rate. Why is this something to pay attention to though? We’ve all heard the term blue light, and many of you are likely aware of some of its effects. Some of you may have heard that it can cause headaches, migraines, or even the inability to sleep, but these are very surface level symptoms.
Regardless of your personal beliefs surrounding evolution, it’s fair to say that humans are now living in a world relatively unfit for our biology. It has been recognized by the neurological community that many of our internal processes are not only initiated, but affected, by our exposure to light. Blue light became a highlighted term over the last decade
as screen times began to increase, but humans are not strangers to blue light. In fact, we actually depend on it for a number of purposes.
Humans are heavily influenced by our exposure to blue light, but it’s actually the contrast of blue and yellow light that properly sets our circadian rhythm. This is an internal process that regulates our sleep-wake cycle. We experience this contrast of blue and yellow most at sunrise and sunset, when the sun is near the horizon.
Our eyes naturally dilate in order to increase or decrease the amount of light being absorbed by the eye, and a similar process occurs in the morning and evening. When we wake up, expecting immediate exposure to light, our retinal sensitivity is low. This means it takes a significant amount of light to positively influence these timers of the brain and organs. Inversely, our retinal sensitivity is high in the evening, meaning it only takes a small amount of light to negatively affect these same internal clocks.
We, as humans, are unfortunately fighting these biological processes at both ends. Our remote workforce has increased dramatically in the last year. This means people are less likely to step outside their home before beginning their workday, and in the process, neglecting the exposure to sunlight. On the other end, once the workday concludes it’s customary to relax in front of one of our many screens at a time when our eyes and brain are preparing for less light. Whether it’s to catch up on our favorite series on Netflix, unwind with a game on Xbox, or just mindlessly scroll through one of our many apps, it’s nearly impossible to avoid a screen and the light that comes with it.
Many experts have even expressed their concern regarding this overexposure. Studies from Stanford and Harvard have shown that regular exposure to light of any kind between the hours of 11pm and 4am can actually increase depressive thoughts and decrease the overall state of our mental health. Knowing the role of natural light, in terms of our biology, it may not be long before we see more products or services that help humans return to a more traditional exposure, without losing screen time.
We’ve already witnessed the development of blue blockers; glasses fitted with special lenses to filter out blue light. The drastic rise of a new streaming platform has even inspired the Formulation Center of Go Mix to look into what else can be done. Twitch, a live video streaming service, recently reported that they receive 15 million unique viewers per day, with over 3.8 million streamers actively broadcasting. That’s a lot of eyes on screens! Knowing this, Go Mix has partnered with an undisclosed brand to formulate a product for those looking to optimize their screen-play performance, while reducing the long term effects of the unnatural light exposure.
The formula is designed around two key ingredients, Lutein and Zeaxanthin. Lutein, a carotenoid related to vitamin-A, has been evident in improving eye health and is known to
improve or even prevent age-related macular disease. Zeaxanthin, perhaps even more notable, has been known to protect the eyes from the effects of oxidation and light-induced damage.
It’s not uncommon for us to reflect on who we once were, in order to determine who we must be. While the goal of reducing screen time or inspiring humans to be more in tune with their biological processes may seem out of reach, it’s important to do what we can as individuals. The world is going to continue utilizing the new technology it produces. Screen time is going to continue to increase. New platforms will continue to be developed, and they will captivate millions, if not billions of people. Change can only occur however, if we understand the impact behind the intended action. Having this knowledge may motivate someone to read before bed, instead of scrolling through social media. Or it may inspire someone to wake up a little earlier, to have time for a brief walk outside before starting their workday.