Instead of looking at the sky, friends, or trees, we now spend an inordinate amount of time staring at screens: smartphones, computers, or HDTVs.
As has been known for a while now, this can effect you biologically in a couple of ways. First, the glare of a screen is harsh on your eyes and can lead to eye strain, causing some damage. Another known problem is that we know that the color of light projected by our screens is about the same color temperature as daylight. Staring at a screen at night tricks your mind into believing it is daytime. This results in throwing out of kilter your circadian rhythm. You can’t fall asleep easily because your mind doesn’t believe it’s time to get some rest.
Several apps (like Flux) have been released over the years to remedy the later, changing your screen’s color temperature to reflect nighttime (eventually Apple incorporated a less feature-rich control into its OS, Night Mode). This way your rhythm is back in sync, enabling you to go to bed at your desired time.
I stumbled across a second issue accidentally. I’ve been ever so slowly trying to make my studio apartment a bit more homey. I was looking to achieve the halo effect behind my HDTV (perhaps in adjustable colors) for night viewing to set a relaxed mood in the room. (I tend to watch TV in bed before I go to sleep. I know they recommend that you don’t look at a screen several hours before you go to sleep but then again, when I have I ever done anything healthy?)
I found that this effect was called Bias Lighting. As I started reading how to achieve this, I came across several articles which explained that it wasn’t only something nice to look at but there was a substantially beneficial reason for doing this.
You know how your eyes, even with proper color temperature, can become affected when viewing any of your screens at night? This has do to with the surroundings you’re viewing your screen in.
If the screen is brighter than the lighting in your environment, this will cause your retinas to dilate, causing eyestrain, burning, and fatigue. Type in your search engine Bias Lighting for a detailed description of what occurs.
So, what is the solution in this instance?
Ironically, Bias Lighting can reduce much of the problem, the same thing I was going to do to add a little class to my apartment. You’ve no doubt seen this before. Most of the time you see it creating various colored halos around a TV’s perimeter. The effect is created by lacing LED strips around the back of the monitor.
But you can reduce your eyestrain even further. I did a bit of research on this and what I learned was that white light (6500K degrees Kelvin) is the most effective way of reducing strain.
I found this an interesting concept and first tried it out by placing my desk lamp behind my iMac while typing one night. I was surprised at how much more comfortable it was working on the computer! Even with using only a desk lamp the impact was immediately noticeable.
You can spend an arm and a leg, even buying a high-end TV with Bias Lighting built-in, You can purchase kits with remote controls that will cost you around USD $100., you can purchase IKEA puck lights. or purchase less expensive yet effective DIY kits. Or think outside of the box and design your own solution.
As is usually the case, Amazon is a good place to start getting a feel for what is out there. I found a company that makes Bias Lighting strips in various lengths that would be powered by my monitor’s USB plug. They’re called Luminoodle from Power Practical. They make exterior lighting as well but what I wanted was interior lighting. The cost was roughly USD $10.00.
Now that I’ve installed the LEDs on the back of my iMac and pronounced it a resounding success, it’s now on to the HDTV and see if that has the same effect. You can power your HDTV’s Bias Lighting also via USB port. Or you can get a system that you plug into an outlet.
I recommend that you start small at first. Buy an inexpensive set up for your computer and see if it has the same effect on you. If you’re happy with the results, then move on from there.
If you received a desktop computer over the holidays, I would highly recommend that you buy an inexpensive set up and give it a bash. Your eyes will most definitely thank you for it.
©2019 Frank Petrie