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Computer Glasses & Blue Light Protection

In today’s hi-tech world, using a computer and mobile phone is a necessity. With the global reach of business and private enterprise, the need for constant connectivity has made much of our lives more convenient and efficient. However, it has also caused some serious concerns among parents, educators, sociologists, and members of the medical community.

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The average American child has up to 4 hours of screen time every day. For adults, it’s almost triple that number. According to studies, American adults spend up to 11 hours each day on various types of interactive media. This heavy amount of screen time is, not surprisingly, resulting in significant health issues, especially on the eyes. The most common condition is Digital Eye Strain, also referred to as Computer Vision Syndrome.

Read More About Blue Light

What Is Blue Light and Is It Dangerous?

There’s just something beautiful, even mesmerizing, about brightly colored lights. Our eyes are naturally drawn to bright lights from shops, Christmas trees, and decorative fixtures. However, while most lights used in home décor or in holiday decorations aren’t harmful, the blue light from digital devices is a different kind of light, and it can be dangerous for your eyes.

Scientifically-speaking, there is a certain range of light that can be seen by the human eye. This is known as the visibility spectrum. Of all the colors of light on the visibility spectrum, blue light has the highest amount of energy and is known to be a primary cause of Computer Vision Syndrome.

Most colors of light on the visibility spectrum emit a constant flow of light. Blue light does not. Its light is less constant, leading to flickering and short disruptions, which forces the eyes to work harder, leading to eye strain and headaches.

Natural blue light is in the atmosphere, and in steady doses, can be good for our overall health. It has been shown to improve memory, moods, and alertness. However, too much isn’t good, either. Excessive exposure to blue light can cause the opposite, such as forgetfulness, depression, and disruption of sleep, and in severe cases, retinal damage. Studies show that less exposure to blue light can drastically improve these symptoms.

What a Daily Dose of Screen Time Can Do

Screens are everywhere. They're in stores; they're in restaurants; they're in our pockets. With this flood of technology, life has seemingly become simpler. Order food and household basics with the touch of a button. Video chat with a family member from across the country. Watch an entire season of a TV in one sitting. Many jobs have since moved to programs on desktops, laptops, and tablets, and many scholastic assignments revolve around the internet. All these advances make screen time nearly unavoidable, but how much time is really spent with these digital devices?

What Is Digital Eye Strain?

Digital Eye Strain (DES), also called Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), is a condition that occurs when the eye is forced to focus on a digital device, such as a TV, desktop computer, laptop, or smartphone, for a lengthy amount of time. A whopping 70% of US adults suffer from the condition, and people aged 18-34 have reported stronger feelings of eyestrain than those in older age groups.

The longer a person stares at a screen, the less they blink their eyes, and this can cause discomfort or vision problems. Blinking is healthy because it naturally moisturizes the eyes and gets rid of tiny particles that may enter the eye. Less blinking causes dryness, itching, redness. Some may experience mild swelling or pain, although it varies among each person.

DES can also negatively affect sleep patterns and cause upper body pain. When our brains are constantly ‘on’ as we consume content and remain alert for long periods of time, it becomes harder for the body to slow down and rest. A body needs movement and exercise (in addition to sleep and nutrition, of course) in order to stay healthy and in good shape. Sitting on a chair or couch for hours on end often results in stiff shoulders, neck pain, and upper back strain.

Many eyecare practitioners believe that DES can contribute to the development of cataracts and age-related Macular Degeneration, so paying attention to the signs is becoming increasingly important.

Excessive screen time causes a number of DES symptoms, including:

  • Blurry or double vision
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Dry or watery eyes
  • Headaches
  • Itchiness
  • Neck, shoulder, or back pain
  • Red eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sore eyes
Kids and Computer Use

Today, our children are growing up with technology, even from infancy. A multitude of apps and interactive computer games are used by millions of children, and the majority of school-age kids have their own smartphones. The amount of hi-tech media products for kids is constantly growing, so it’s more important than ever to help protect children’s eyes.

Children are imitating adult screen habits, increasing their hours spent with digital devices over the last 5 years. In a recent study, children under 2 years old were shown to spend about 42 minutes per day with screen media; children ages 2-4 spend about 2 hours and 40 per day; children ages 5-8 spend almost 3 hours per day.

Average Hours Spent on Digital Devices Chart

Visual Aids and Tools for Digital Eye Strain

Advances in technology make it possible for people with DES to get some relief. Anti-glare covers for a desktop computer screen and a brighter screen resolution can make it easier on the eyes, decreasing or even eliminating the need to squint or sit too close to your screen. Proper desk chairs with good back support and ergonomic accessories like keyboards and computer stands can all improve your sitting posture for a more comfortable work environment.

Dr. David Yesnick will be glad to recommend a number of visual aids or devices that can help with your Digital Eye Strain symptoms, for more comfortable long-term computer use.

Nutritional Intervention

Nutrition builds up our eyes’ natural protection against free radicals, but how many adults eat the right amount of leafy green and brightly colored veggies, let alone children? While nutrition isn’t top of mind for a child, it is for the parent. I make a point of explaining to parents that starting children out early on a healthy diet is more likely to keep them eating well throughout their lives. Even with a proper diet, though, the eyes tend not to get the nutrients they need to sustain natural protection. Giving parents a simple way to help naturally defend their children’s eyes from the ill effects of screen time is a great way to make an impact on this tech-heavy generation.

Prescribing high-quality nutraceuticals is an easy way to supplement a child’s diet with the protective nutrients they need. Quality and purity are key when it comes to choosing a product to provide your pediatric patients. Trusting a proven company known for their clinical research and high-quality ingredients makes the most sense, and that’s why EyePromise is the company I partner with. While that’s my recommendation, I encourage my fellow eye care professionals to do their research and find what works best for their practice.

A happy family using a laptop, Eye Care in Las Vegas, NV
EyePromise Eye Shield, Eye Care in Las Vegas, NV

Reducing Screen Time

Because tech companies are aware of the danger of too much screen time, many smartphones now include built-in triggers to warn users when their screen time has gone over a certain number of hours. This is done to raise awareness and reduce excessive use.

In addition to computer glasses and ergonomic devices, doctors advise people to take frequent breaks while using digital devices. Walk around, stretch, go outside, and find other activities to do in between computer use. This, combined with visual aids, can help improve or even prevent DES and CVS from developing.



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