Blue light from digital screens is here to stay. That's important for adults and children alike.
Our world has significantly changed in the few decades with the advancement of technology. You can’t escape it! As adults, almost every job is now technologically driven. Even if there's no screen at work, we're so involved with our phones we'd hit the panic button without them (Keys, PHONE, wallet is what I always say stepping out of the house). At school, note taking has become almost exclusively done on our computers. Class information, handouts, power point are all on screens. Starting in elementary school, kids are on Chrome books. And to top this sunday off with a cherry, our first and last actions most days involve our cell phone---not to mention the nearly habitual checking and recheck throughout the day.
Don’t get me wrong, you don’t need to go live off in the woods and throw all technology out the window. Blue light is of some benefit. Studies have shown that a healthy dose of blue light can help maintain mental performance during waking hours.
However, studies have also shown that blue light affects our circadian rhythm, especially in young kids. Our optic nerve does not just send information for our brain to interpret vision. According to an article on optic nerve anatomy, there are 10-20 efferent fibers in each optic nerve that send nerve impulses at night to the Limulus brain--which holds our circadian clock. Blue light can block the activation of these fibers and decrease the amount of melatonin. That's a problem because melatonin is essential to quality sleep. This not only affects work and school performance, but also our attention and focus to be productive during the day. Anyone who has insomnia wishes for one night of “good sleep”, but as non-insomniacs we are disrupting the “good night sleep” by utilizing screens before going to bed. Not only is that we use screens so much, but also that we don't take breaks! We work non-stop and before we know it, the bell rings, or it’s time to clock out and go home. We also don’t hydrate well or blink our eyes with computer work. Bright screens make us stare and drink coffee so we work faster and feel more focused. This leads to chronic dry eyes even in children--whom should not have dry eyes at such young ages. Blue light has also shown in some cases to worsen the intensity of migraines and headaches, especially around the eyes-- it causes digital eye strain.
So what should we do?
- Follow the 20/20/20 rule, which is every 20-30 minutes of working on a screen, look far away (20 ft) and blink your eyes and relax them for about 20 seconds.
- BLINK! It’s silly to suggest but the action of blinking promotes tear production and lessens dry eyes.
- About an hour before bed time, young or old, put the phone/tablet/computer/iPad away. Let your eyes rest and not strain with the constant near work.
- Limit screen time for the young ones; again, dry eyes should not be present in kids but it's becoming very prevalent.
- THE MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL: We cannot escape screens, they are everywhere. And we cannot escape LED. Ask our 6 wonderful doctors about the EyeZen lens and/or transitions:
EyeZen is a blue light blocking lens that can be used with and without prescription glasses. It comes in 5 levels, level 0-4. Level 0 starts with just the blue light blocking affect and no increase in plus/magnification for reading vision. Levels 1-4... I like to call them baby magnifiers. When we read or do near work, our natural eye physiology causes our eyes to move down and inwards (converge), it also forces our accommodation (focusing) muscles to dial in and work harder. They EyeZen levels 1-4 have some accommodation relaxing affect by applying more plus power at the bottom of the lens, which helps relax our focusing muscles and hence lessen eye strain at near with prolonged near work/screen-time. As a pediatric optometrist, I educate all parents about this for their kids of all ages since Chrome books are used in nearly all schools. But I also educate patients of all ages about EyeZen since we all use screens. This includes my wonderful grandma-in-law who is 88 and up to date on Social Media more than me!
Transitions are another wonderful option to protect our eyes from blue light. This is also great because not only do you get your prescription glasses and sun protection all in one, but you also get the blue light blocking affect whether the lenses have transitioned or not.
Moral of the story folks is tlease protect your eyes and your young ones’ eyes from harmful UV and blue light, enjoy the many things technology has to offer safely, and also enjoy your restful night sleep.
Call our office and schedule your next eye exam with one of our doctors and discuss EyeZen and Transitions.
Happy Pumpkin Spice and fuzzy socks season everyone!
P.S we have a great promo going on with both! So pick up your digital device and call.