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What is Blue-Violet light and can Smart phones damage your eyes?

Do Smart phones damage your eyes?

How can I protect my child’s eyes from harmful light?

How long should my child spend on their phone?

Are hand held tablets safe for children to use?

What causes Macular degeneration?

 

Our lives have changed a lot over the last 20 years, but are all those changes good?

 

Technology has brought changes to every single house in the UK. The way we light our rooms, the way we spend our leisure time, - the way our children spend their leisure time.

Our ability to sit anywhere in our house and browse the internet on our smart phones or tablets. Where once we need to sit down at our desk computer to send emails or to browse the internet, we can now do that anywhere we have a signal.

Our children can research their homework anywhere. They can see their friends on their phone screens as if they were in the room with them. Their lives revolve around computers, smart phones and tablets, not just at home, but at school too.

With the emergence of low energy lighting, LED, and compact florescent lights, we have reduced our energy bills significantly – some lights use 85% less power!

The devices we have and the way we live our lives today would have been considered science fiction!

Technology has made life is so much better hasn’t it?

Or has it?

How can any of these advances in technology be bad?

The devices and lighting we use -

  • Smart phones

  • Tablets

  • LED Screens

  • LED TVs

  • LED lighting

  • Low energy bulbs

All have one thing in common, the all emit blue-violet light. Blue light isn’t just emitted by these devices. It is emitted by the sun and is all around us – its why the sky appears blue!

All Blue light isn’t bad, in fact certain blue light is very good -

  • It helps regulate our natural sleep/wake cycle - known as our Circadian cycle.

  • It heightens awareness

  • It elevates our moods

  • It helps our memory and cognitive functioning.

The problem is our increasing exposure to the harmful blue light, we can’t avoid it – It’s in every room in our home, in every indoor location at school and where we work.

This harmful wavelength of light can cause much more disruption and damage to our lives then you may realise.

  • Excess can disrupt the Circadian cycle

  • Cause Digital Eye Strain – blurred vision -difficulty focussing – Dry irritated eyes and headaches.

  • Greater risk of certain types of Cancer

  • May cause permanent eye damage, including Macular degeneration, which can lead to vision loss.

So who is most at risk from harmful UV light and Violet-Blue light damage?

 The answer is we all are –

  • 43% of employed adults use digital devices for prolonged periods as part of their working day.

  • Research shows that children spend on average 3 hours per day exposed to Blue-Violet light using smart phones and hand held devices.

  • Working in doors in florescent and LED lighting.

  • 93% of teenagers use a computer or have access to one

 

The alarming and scary truth is that the group most exposed and most at risk are our children.

Before age 10, children's eyes are not fully developed.  The crystalline lens (the lens inside the eye just behind the Iris) and cornea are still largely transparent and do not yet filter the harmful UV and blue-violet light. The pupil is also larger allowing more light in to the eye. 

So if your child’s eyes are not filtering the natural harmful light, you can see that exposing them to even more harmful light, will significantly increases the risks to worrying levels. It is even more alarming that Children are exposed to 3 times more harmful UV and blue light than adults.

 

So what can you do to protect your child’s vision from harmful UV and Blue Violet light?

 

Limiting their time on hand held devices is the obvious answer, but not so easy to do. The education system is reliant on electronic devices whether it be sourcing information, producing work or reading online articles.

 Then there is the social implications! I can’t imagine my children welcoming the idea of me reducing their access to phones (much as I would like to!)  or their friends – it seems the only way they communicate these days.

I am afraid these devices, and how important they are in their lives is not going to change.

Manufacturers of electronic devices are no doubt aware of the risks and problems, and I have no doubt they are working on reducing the harmful light their devices emit.

Spectacle lens manufacturers are also aware of the risks (problably much more aware in fact) and have been producing spectacle lens coatings which filter out UV and harmful Blue-Violet light. There are several lens coatings available –

  • Essilor Prevencia

  • Nikon SeeCoat Blue

  • Hoya Hi-Vision LongLife

  • Zeiss DuraVision BlueProtect

  •  

These are just a few of the best coatings available today. More and more coatings will come to the market over the coming months.

If your child wears spectacles, ask your Optician about blue light protection coatings – they will be a little more costly than the standard lens, but given the protection they offer, well worth the extra outlay.

If your child doesn’t need spectacles, you could still ask your Optician about buying a non-prescription pair for use while using devices.

Not necessarily all Opticians fully aware of the coatings available and the performance characteristics of the coatings, so be sure to speak to one who knows their stuff about coatings, blue light and the connection to cumulative visual issues.

 

There are lots of other sources of information on the internet regarding blue light.

I have listed a few sources and links if you want to find out more.

 

The BBC did the article below

http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/26780069/smartphone-overuse-may-damage-eyes-say-opticians

This is a more technical and in depth article – written for the optical profession but does have some good information

http://www.reviewofoptometry.com/continuing_education/tabviewtest/lessonid/109744/

This is a good site with lots of statistics and information

http://www.bluelightexposed.com/#blue-light-and-macular-degeneration

 

Here are some lens manufacturers sites with specific product information

http://www.crizalprevencia.com/

 

http://www.nikonlenswear.co.uk/products/treatments/seecoat-blue-premium-uv

 

http://www.zeiss.co.uk/vision-care/en_gb/better-vision/understanding-vision/eye-and-vision/blue-light-the-good-and-the-bad.html

 

http://www.hoya.co.uk/index.php?SID=56d974e313182504926164&page_id=19326



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