Blue light isn’t all bad. Yesterday we talked about the cumulative effects of blue light on the eyes. But blue light is not all bad. There are good effects from blue light. The spectrum of blue/turquoise 465nm to 495nm is actually the beneficial part of the blue light spectrum. First of all it regulates the circadian rhythm . It regulates pupil size so this is why your pupils will constrict or dilate. It also helps memory and cognitive function, and boosts mood and alertness. In fact lack of blue light has been associated with the Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
However, the things that give us concern is with the cumulative effects we are concerned about development of macular degeneration. We also know about Digital Eye Strain or otherwise known as Computer Eye Strain. Harvard researches have linked working the night shift and exposure to blue light at night to several types of cancer (breast and prostate), diabetes and heart disease. Obesity and and increased risk for depression is also of concern.
Digital Eye Strain, also known as Computer Vision Syndrome is defined as a group of eye and vision-related problems that result from prolonged computer, tablet, e-reader and/or cell phone use. Digital eyestrain has overtaken carpal-tunnel syndrome as the number one computer related complaint. The symptoms include eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes and neck and shoulder pain.
When looking at computer screens and other digital devices that emit significant amounts of blue light, this unfocused visual “noise” reduces contrast. When viewing digital devices, the eyes are looking at a pixelated image that is rapidly alternating or flickering multiple times per second. It is much harder for the visual system to maintain a sharp or consistent focus on an electronic image compared to a hard image.
Per the 2016 Digital Eye Strain Report 73% of adults in their 20’s report symptoms of digital eye strain. Nearly 9 out of 10 report using multiple devices simultaneously. They opt for getting their news via their smartphones, computers, and tablets, compared to 66% of people who are 60 and older who tend to prefer to get their news from television. Nearly 90% check their devices within an hour of sleep.
For adults in their 30’s 93% are at risk for digital eye strain from spending two or more hours a day on a digital device. They use their smart phones to get directions, shopping, recipes, and play games. The 40’s group uses their devices for shopping more than any other age group. More than 20% use their devices to keep track of professional sports. 50’s have used digital devices for prolonged periods of time for more than 15 yrs. 86% use their devices 2 or more hours on digital devices every day. More than half use their devices more than 5 hours a day. As for the 60 y/o’s use digital devices more than 5+ hours every day. They are more likely to use a desktop or laptop computer for activities like getting directions, finding a recipe, doing research, checking social media and playing games than younger generations who instead use their smartphones.
Women report symptoms of Digital Eye Strain more than men. Women are more likely to use smartphones where men tend to use laptops and computers more. Also women are more likely to use their smartphones before bed than men.
So what can be done? There are several ways to address the eye strain issues. A single vision lens designed for computer distance only is one way to address this strain. Also there are several different new lens designs specifically for digital device use. It is a distance lens with a very slight reading correction at the bottom of the lens to remove a little of the focusing eyestrain. This is for younger people as well as middle age. For the over 40 crowd there are unique ways to fit progressive lenses for digital use.
Also having good eye practices helps to reduce this eye strain. For every 20 min of computer use, look 20 ft away for 20 sec. This relaxes the focusing mechanism and helps to reduce the strain.
I will go into more information about cumulative damage from blue light next Monday. I know this is long but it effects almost every one of us and is a new area of research where we are learning so much about what happens to us in our everyday life. Call today for an exam to find out if you are having issues with blue light and digital eye strain.