f.lux: A Sight for Sore Eyes

Article by David Crawford | 562 words

We’ve all been there. It’s late and you have more work to do or just cannot fall asleep, so you hop on your computer. However, because your eyes have already adjusted to the darkness in your room, the light emitting from the screen feels as if it’s burning through your cornea and melting your lens. You could turn down the brightness, but that could make the screen itself too dark. Luckily, there is a program you can install to help you use a computer safely regardless of what time of day it is. This program, called f.lux, is available for Windows, Mac and Linux computers as well as iPhones and iPads.

How f.lux Makes Your Device Easy on the Eyes

Instead of lowering the brightness, f.lux changes the color of the display light depending on the time of day. For example, during the day, the light is normal, but during the night, it becomes much warmer. The screen has a soft orange tint to it.

f.lux comparison

Credit: BioHacks.net

By doing this, the light is now much easier on your eyes. These adjustments are performed automatically: all you need to do is install it and tell it where you live. Then, f.lux will calculate when sunset occurs and set the color automatically. Since the display is less damaging to the eyes, it may be less disruptive to your internal sleep clock if you use your device late at night.

f.lux settings

Your screen changes color based on the timing of sunrise and sunset, along with your own personal settings. Credit: JustGetFlux.com

Negating the Effects of Blue Light

It is already known that blue light emits from computers, cell phones, TVs and other LED devices. This blue light can keep you awake at night, but the f.lux team believes their program greatly reduces the effect. Research found on JustGetFlux.com explains that if you use a device such as a tablet, cell phone or computer a couple hours before bed, your ability to fall asleep is delayed an hour. On f.lux’s website, you can also find different research articles and papers explaining how excessive blue light damages your eyes.

Laura Beil, a health and science journalist wrote an article for The New York Times explaining blue light’s effects in detail. She states that the hormone melatonin is produced throughout our bodies. We naturally produce less of it in daylight, so when our eyes are exposed to blue light, our bodies don’t make as much melatonin, regardless of the actual time of day.

Late-night tablet use

Credit: iPadMango.com

The suppression of melatonin is brought up again in a recent study on reading a tablet before bed. The study, led by Anne-Marie Chang, Daniel Aeschbach, Jeanna F. Duffy and Charles A. Czeisler, reveals quite a few negative consequences of late-night tablet use. Along with the reduced melatonin production, which hurts our ability to fall asleep, the researchers found that the amount of deep REM sleep was reduced. Participants in the research study also found themselves to be less alert and focused in the morning after using one of the devices before bed.

More and more research is being conducted on the effects of blue light, and f.lux is doing its best to help us. With less damaging light, Internet addicts can stay on their computers and tablets for hours without hurting their eyes. Maybe, one day, we can stay on the Internet forever. Don’t lose faith, brothers and sisters.

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