ALEXANDRIA, Va., Jan. 5, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Sleep disruption, increased risk of depression, long-term vision issues and retinal damage – these are all potential side effects of a hidden culprit: blue light. Also known as high energy visible (HEV) light, blue light – according to a new nationwide report released today by The Vision Council – is emitted from digital devices, contributing to eye strain. These findings arrive as thousands flock to the annual Consumer Electronics Show, the modern mecca for the latest gadgetry designed to improve individuals' lifestyles, but not necessarily their vision.
Blue light is a type of light with short wavelengths that emits higher energy. Aside from sunlight, digital screens – on computers/laptops, smart phones, tablets and TVs – are the most common source of blue light exposure. Blue light penetrates deep into the eye, and exposure may result in: exposing the eye to hidden spikes in light intensity; age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts; and suppression of the body's natural release of melatonin. With an increase in digital technology, there has been an increase in blue light exposure. In turn, many individuals suffer from the physical eye discomfort felt after screen use for longer than two hours at a time, also known as digital eye strain.
As part of its ongoing efforts to educate the public about the effects of digital devices on the eyes, The Vision Council commissioned its new survey of 9,840 American adults nationwide, which found that more than 87% use digital devices more than two hours per day, and over 52% regularly use two digital devices simultaneously.
However, according to Dr. Justin Bazan, OD and medical adviser to The Vision Council, the eyes are not built to stare at digital screens all day, as the modern world demands. "Patients underestimate how their technology use may be contributing to eye strain and do not consider ways to reduce this stress," he says.
In reality, digital devices are having a major – negative – impact on the eyes and overall body. Americans report experiencing the following symptoms of digital eye strain: eye strain (31%), neck and shoulder pain (30.1%), headache (22.6%), blurred vision (22.1%) and dry eyes (22%). Additionally, more than 80% report using digital devices in the hour before going to sleep. Eye exposure before bedtime has been shown to disrupt sleep patterns by increasing alertness to the brain.
It's no surprise that digital eye strain has become a family affliction, with a high percentage of all age groups utilizing digital devices for more than two hours each day: Ages 60 and up (78.5%), 50 to 59 (87.2%), 40 to 49 (89.9%), 30 to 39 (90.8%) and 18 to 29 (92.4%).
Perhaps most concerning are the effects blue light and digital eye strain are having on children. Among parents in the survey, 76.5% indicate their child(ren) receives more than two hours of screen time per day, and 55.6% say their child(ren) experiences at least one of the following after two hours of screen time: headaches; neck/shoulder pain; eye strain, dry or irritated eyes; reduced attention span; poor behavior; or irritability. However, while 78.3% of parents are "somewhat" or "very" concerned about the impact of digital devices on their kids, only 29.1% take their child for an annual eye exam as part of back-to-school preparation.
Luckily, there are a number of easy solutions that can alleviate the symptoms of blue light exposure and digital eye strain. Eyewear is available with lenses featuring blue light-filtering capabilities that reduce the negative effects of blue light, as well as anti-reflective or anti-glare properties, helping preserve eye health and maintain the body's circadian rhythm to facilitate a good night's sleep. This lens technology blocks blue light, decreases brightness, minimizes glare and reduces blurriness/pixilation of screens. These lenses are constructed for the mid-distance range at which users typically view a digital screen, and can be purchased with or without a prescription. Plus, these lenses can be incorporated into nearly any pair of frames, maximizing eye safety without sacrificing style.
In addition to eyewear solutions, other ways to relieve digital eye strain include:
- Following the 20-20-20 rule, taking a 20-second break from the screen every 20 minutes and looking at something 20 feet away
- Reducing overhead lighting to eliminate screen glare
- Positioning yourself at arm's distance away from the screen for the proper viewing distance when at a computer
- Increase text size on devices to better define content on the screen
Although the effects of blue light and digital eye strain may be real, 68.5% of Americans haven't discussed their specific digital device usage with their eyecare provider. The Vision Council recommends adults and children visit a local eyecare provider for their annual eye exam and to discuss their digital habits and what eyewear solutions are available to relieve the symptoms of digital eye strain and reduce exposure to blue light.
"The optical industry has recognized and responded to the increase in digital habits and has developed lens and coating technology to protect the eyes from blue light, glare and other environmental stressors, ultimately to improve the way people see," says Ashley Mills, CEO of The Vision Council. "Consistent with its mission, The Vision Council is committed to educating the public that suffering from the effects of blue light exposure and digital eye strain does not have to be – and should not be – the norm."
To view or download a copy of the report, visit The Vision Council online at: thevisioncouncil.org/des.
About The Vision Council
Championing better vision for better lives, The Vision Council positions its members for success by promoting growth in the vision care industry through education, advocacy, research, consumer outreach, strategic relationship building and industry forums. By sharing the latest in eyewear trends, advances in technology and advice from eyewear experts, The Vision Council serves as a resource to the public looking to learn more about options in eyeglasses and sunglasses. For more information, visit thevisioncouncil.org.
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SOURCE The Vision Council