Blue light. You get it from your phone, your laptop, even the lighting in your office and constant exposure to its harmful radiation could have consequences.
Issues range from eye-strains to migraines and the solution to all of it could be glasses.
Optometrist Steven Squillace says there’s a constant question on his mind.
“I always think in my mind, how much are your eyes worth?”
We may be losing sight of issues that accompany long-term computer usage, too.
“I certainly want to be a person who’s 80, 85-years-old and can still read, go to concerts, enjoy things visually,” Doctor Carol Owen, a social work educator at Westfield State University, explained.
Squillace tells Western Mass News that exposure to the blue end of the light spectrum can be harmful to the human eye. It's emitted from the sun and digital devices, in fact, he even says new energy-efficient light bulbs emit blue light.
“Exposure from electronic devices, in terms of making the eyes tired and also can affect the comfort of the eye including how warm the eye feels and dryness.”
Headaches are another side effect of harmful blue light exposure.
And using your phone or tablet before bedtime can disrupt circadian rhythm, impacting sleep.
“Periodically, I’d come in here and complain of headache and eye strain,” Dr. Owen explained. “I’m on a computer screen about maybe 8 or 10 hours a day.”
Eye strain and headaches date back to the late 90's for Dr. Owen. Exactly when she started using a computer.
“All the advice was, ‘not so much time on the screen,’ but if you’re an academic, it’s not advice you can take really,” she explained.
Now, there's an easier solution.
“These are essential blue filter lenses that block 20 percent of the harmful blue light on devices,” Dr. Squillace explained, holding out glasses.
So, how effective are these?
“They’re very effective for people using electronics over the course of the day, in terms of stopping the harmful blue light getting into the eyes,” Dr. Squillace added.
For the last two years, Dr. Owen has worn blue light filtering glasses and says ever since, her eye problems have vanished.
“I don’t know that that was the change that accounts for my lack of headaches, could be other things, but I don’t have eye strain at the end of the day, or headaches,” she said.
Doug Almanzar, is a project manager for a software installation company in Northampton. He works from home and is on the computer around 6 hours a day. About a year ago, he got a pair of blue light glasses.
He tells Western Mass News he got the lenses as a preventative measure, but he may already be seeing a change.
“Less stress, less headaches,” Almanzar said. “I don’t know if that’s because of the blue light or the prescription change. I’m not sure but things are definitely better.”
There is more than meets the eye when it comes to blue light—the good spectrum of it helps your mood and your sleep.
“To that end,” Dr. Squillace explained, “you don’t want to wear a pair of glasses called blue blockers that block all blue light. You want lenses that only block the harmful blue light and leave that good blue light coming through.”
Even if you don't have a prescription, you can have glasses with a blue light filter lense to protect your eyes from the fatigue and strain by the end of the day.
Dr. Squillace also recommends taking a break from your devices every twenty minutes, and put the cell phone down at least an hour before bed.
Parents keep in mind that children are most at risk.
For more information on how to protect yourself from blue light, you can contact Steve Squillace at Somers Vision Clinic at (860) 763-4733 or Mary Finn at Optical Studio in Westfield at (413) 584-6616.
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