Everything Parents Should Know About Blue Light
Updated: Jun 21, 2019
According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, 95% of teens have access to a smartphone and 45% say they are online almost constantly. A separate survey from 2015 revealed that a staggering 97% of all teens play video games. So between social media, homework and video games your child is probably spending quite a bit of time in front of a digital device.
So what about all the ads and talk about harmful "blue light"? How worried should you be about the health of your child's eyes? Should you invest in a set of computer glasses? These are all good questions and you'll find all the answers in this Q&A style article.
What is Blue Light?
Blue Light, or more specifically High Energy Visible Light (HEV) is a portion of the light spectrum which ranges from 380-500nm and it is everywhere. It may seem like a new discovery but blue light actually represents about a third of all visible light.
Blue light is the same, whether it's coming from the sun or a smartphone, the difference is the intensity and amount of exposure. Yes, Digital devices such as computer monitors, flat screen televisions, tablets and smartphones all emit HEV light but it doesn't match the intensity of sunlight.
Can Blue Light cause permanent damage?
Blue light can definitely cause permanent damage to your eyes but serious diseases such as Macular Degeneration (AMD) and Cataracts are not likely to stem from the typical use of a smartphone or other such digital devices.
Blue light has been clinically proven to cause sleep disruption and for this reason you'll want to either eliminate digital device use 1-2 hours before bedtime, use "night mode" on the device or wear blue light filtering glasses.
Can HEV light be filtered with glasses?
Yes, though full time blue light filtering glasses are not necessary. In fact, you don't want to filter out all blue light. Our mind uses light to maintain our Circadian Rhythm (our biological clock) and the blue light present during the morning and afternoon hours serves as a cue to tell our mind that it's day time and time to be active.
There are many ways to filter or reduce the amount of HEV light, glasses are just one option. If you chose to use such filters it is best to use them during late evening hours. For younger children up to age 6-7 years old it is best to avoid all digital device exposure at least 1 hour before a nap or bedtime. For children over 7 years old, you should turn on the "night mode" on the digital device or use blue light filtering glasses anytime leading up to a nap or bedtime.
What is a Blue Light Coating?
A blue light coating, aka blue light Anti-Glare coating, reflects blue light off the front surface of the lenses and so limiting the amount of HEV light that reaches the eye. Unfortunately, many blue light coatings are quite the opposite of a traditional Anti-glare coating. They tend to cast a purple hue which is noticeable by someone looking at the wearer as well as the wearer themselves.
Personally, I prefer a standard anti-glare coating over a blue light coating for a set of glasses that I'll be wearing all day. (Then again, I use glasses full-time)
For someone that is purchasing non-prescription computer glasses the color of the Anti-glare shouldn't be a problem since you can take them off while not in front of a digital device.
Though blue light from digital devices isn't as harmful as it's made out to be, Digital Eye Strain is something you should be wary of. If your child spends hours at a time playing video games, browsing social media sites or even just working on school related projects and homework, they may already be suffering from symptoms of Digital Eye Strain.
These are all signs that your child may be spending too much time staring at a digital device. Start by encouraging healthy habits such as breaks every 20 minutes to let their eyes naturally rest and refresh. (Our 20/20/20 Guide is very useful)
Our eye muscles work harder to focus near then they do far so not giving them a break will lead to unhappy and irritated eyes. We also don't blink as much as we should while staring at a bright screen and that leads to dry eyes.
We can all benefit from greater eye care awareness in this digital age we live in. It's not going anywhere so there is no chance of simply eliminating the culprit here. Establishing good habits as early as possible is the best solution we have.
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