Patients often experience digital eye strain after only two hours of device usage. That doesn’t discourage them, though, because, according to The Vision Council, almost a third of adults spend most of their waking hours in the digital world.
The culprit, of course, is blue light. Also referred to as HEV or high-energy visible light, the problem is that, because it reaches deeper into the eye, long-term exposure may cause retinal damage.
According to The Vision Council report, ‘Hindsight is 20/20/20,’ less than a quarter of adults know anything about problems associated with blue light. The issue they’re more likely to come to you about is visual discomfort.
Here are four things you need to know about this important topic:
30% of consumers spend more than 9 hours a day on digital devices. And those numbers are on the rise.
• Smartphones. Just three years ago, only 45% of consumers used smartphones every day. Now that’s up to 69%, and growing. More than half the country’s millennials say they even take their phones to bed with them.
• TABLETS and TV. Another 42% of consumers use tablets or e-readers every day, compared to only 26% back in 2012. Gen Xers (born 1965 – 1980) use more tablets than other generations, while, for Boomers (born 1946 – 1964), it’s viewing TV that causes the most trouble.
When patients complain of tired eyes, you likely consider devices the culprit. However, back, neck, and shoulder pain are just as common when it comes to symptoms related to digital usage. Since 32% of patients never address their symptoms, you need to be proactive about the subject in the exam room.
When they do complain, they report:
• 32.8% Eye strain
• 32.6% Neck, shoulder, and back pain
• 24.0% Headache
• 23.3% Blurred vision
• 22.8% Dry eyes
3. Vision Problems
Americans at both ends of the age spectrum are seeing the most serious impacts from blue light. With one in four children using devices more three hours daily, your practice is likely seeing an increase in myopia among young patients. Though parents report they’re concerned about the impact of devices on their kids, nearly a third say they don’t limit screen time.
On the other end of the age spectrum, research suggests a likely link between blue light exposure and long-term problems such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Research has a long way to go on these subjects. And, some say we have only seen the tip of those icebergs.
4. Everyday Solutions
So, what should you recommend to patients? There are simple answers such as blinking more often, taking breaks, and adjusting ambient lighting. But the better solutions, are, of course, stressing the benefits of spectacle lens options that are available to help. They range from anti-reflective lenses and what’s variously known as blue light/office/computer lenses to sunwear that blocks the bad blue light outdoors.
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