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Are you protecting your eyes from high energy visible light?

Did you know that in 2007 there were zero smart phones and in 2010 there were zero tablets?  Today, most people have one of each and it is hard to imagine a world without them.  Our consumption of media has changed drastically. More people are using multiple devices simultaneously. Children’s text books are on tablets. Grandma is on Snap Chat. Beyond entertainment and social media, the digital and mobile revolution is changing the demands placed on our eyes and visual system and as a result, it has created a whole new set of challenges and concerns.

In 2015 the American Optometric Association completed the American Eye-Q® survey where they identified that 62% of responders spent five or more hours on a digital device every day, with 14% spending at least 10 hours per day on digital devices! Ok, so we spend an ever increasing amount of time on digital devices, but what is connection between these devices and our eye health?

The answer to that question is High Energy Visible Light, or what has been termed “Blue Light,” and it should be something that we are all aware of.  Blue Light is nearly as high in energy as Ultraviolet (UV) light, and we all know that UV light can be quite damaging to our human tissues. Today, our modern indoor LED lighting, cell phones, tablet and computer displays all emit blue light, almost exclusively. Through recent studies, we have identified that this high energy visible light not only contributes to eyestrain, dry/burning eyes, and visual fatigue but also has been linked to long term retinal damage and sleep disorders!

Who is at Risk?

We all process light differently however, the groups that are at the biggest risk for the side effects of Blue Light are:  1) Children, due to no natural protection from the young human lens and closer working distances to digital devices; 2) Heavy Tech Users (3+ hours/day); 3) Post-Operative Cataract Patients, due to no natural protection from the prosthetic lens, and 4) Patients with macular/retinal disease or those who have a family history of macular/retinal disease.  For all four of these patient groups, protection from high energy visible light is strongly recommended.

How to get protected:

There are several excellent spectacle lens designs, materials, and coatings within the market that your doctor can prescribe to help protect your eyes.  Some of the best performing options that we prescribe at North Shore Eye Health and Wellness are Hoya’s Sync and Tact lenses with their patented Recharge coating. I also am a big fan of BlueTech lenses for my post-operative cataract patients or those with family history of retinal disease.