Though the current generation never knew a life without devices, those of us north of 30 years old have watched as we slowly became more and more surrounded by technology. Screens are everywhere – on our televisions, computers, smartphones, tablets, and some buildings have giant screens built-in. Even the light bulb has seen a dramatic revolution in the form of compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs Because technology has never played a bigger role in our lives, digital lenses have never been more important.
For all its innovation and life-improvement, there’s a downside to being surrounded by this technology. Studies have shown that average Americans spend between 3-12 hours per day looking at digital screens, depending upon age and occupation. This means that some Americans are spending as much as half of their waking day (or more) staring at devices that emit harmful blue light.
What Is Blue Light?
Though we perceive it sometimes as “white” light, visible light is made up of many different colors. These visible colors are divided into different ranges, or spectrums. But the invisible ranges are also divided into spectrums. While the invisible UV (ultraviolet) and IR (infrared) spectrums have been talked about a lot in the past, the blue light spectrum is becoming an increasingly prevalent concern for health professionals … and for good reason. Not only can exposure to blue light cause vision problems, it can also have an impact on your overall health.
While sunlight is a natural source, blue light is also emitted by CFL & LED lights, digital screens, and handheld digital devices. There are three spectrum ranges of blue light emitted by these devices which can impact your body in specific ways.
1. Blue Light and Daily Vision
Glare from blue light in the spectrum range of 400-420nm can be the root cause of a condition called Digital Eye Strain. This condition describes a group of vision-related symptoms that include eyestrain (or fatigue of the eye structures), headaches, dry or irritated eyes, headaches, and even neck or shoulder pain. Because viewing digital screens often causes your eyes to work harder than normal, your risk of developing these symptoms increases the longer you’re viewing these devices.
If you spend most or all your waking time viewing digital devices, the 20-20-20 rule is a great exercise to help keep eyestrain at bay. Every 20 minutes, focus your eyes for 20 seconds on an object that’s 20 feet away from you. This allows the muscles and structures in your eye to rest, while refreshing the visual data your eyes are taking in.
2. Blue Light and Eye Health
The number one cause of vision loss among Americans is macular degeneration. Over time, the delicate macula (located in the retina) can become damaged due to age or environmental factors. Unfortunately, blue light in the 400-440nm spectrum range can cause or worsen damage to the macula. Prolonged exposure to devices or environments with high levels of blue light should be avoided; especially for individuals over the age of 50, or those who have been diagnosed with Age-Related Macular Degeneration.
3. Blue Light and Overall Health
Blue light in the spectrum range of 459-484nm can cause health problems beyond that of your vision. Blue light disrupts or suppresses your body’s production of melatonin – a vital hormone produced in the pineal gland that regulates waking and sleeping. This suppression of melatonin slows speed to sleep, and can also cause disruption in quality of sleep … even hours after blue light exposure.
4. Digital Lenses
While decreasing screen time and being aware of certain types of room light can help, digital lenses are the most comprehensive and safest way to avoid exposure to harmful blue light. Digital lenses aren’t unlike sunscreen. Whereas a quality sunscreen’s SPF (sun protection factor) rating gives you some idea of how much UV radiation is being “blocked” from your skin, digital lenses are created to “block” certain blue light spectrum ranges from entering your eyes.
While some blue light (like the blue light naturally emitted from the sun) can be good, there’s no such thing as good blue light at night. Even dim blue light emitted from devices can interfere with your natural sleep rhythms and melatonin secretion. Especially if you spend lots of time viewing screens or watching TV after dark, digital lenses are essential.
Obviously, not all digital lenses are created equal. Since there are 3 specific impact ranges for blue light in terms of health, it’s important to purchase digital lenses that protect against all 3 blue light spectrum ranges. Some manufacturers offer a blue light-blocking film or coating that can be applied to traditional lenses. While these films or coatings can provide a degree of protection, they’re prone to chipping or wearing off over time, reducing their effectiveness.
At Spectacles of Naples, we offer only the latest in digital lens technology. Our digital lenses have blue light filters infused into the lens for the best, longest-lasting, and most effective protection against blue light. Available in hundreds of different styles and sizes, we have the perfect designer frames to complement your unique style.
Call us today at 239.566.9300 to schedule your premium eye exam with our independent Doctor of Optometry and to discuss digital lens solutions that suit your specific needs.
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