BLUE LIGHT’S IMPACT ON CHILDREN – AND ON YOUR PRACTICE

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Crizal Prevencia No-Glare lenses selectively filter out harmful light, while letting beneficial light pass through.
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BluTech lenses have an infusion of ocular lens pigment to offer comprehensive protection against harmful light while improving visual performance.
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HOYA’s Recharge EX3 lens is designed specifically to keep wearers’ eyes relaxed and reduce eyestrain on digital devices.

The electronic revolution means having the blue light discussion sooner rather than later.

“Is there long term risk associated with my child spending so much time on the computer or iPad?” This has increasingly become one of the most common””and pressing””questions of my practice. As a parent myself, I, too, wonder about the health consequences computers and handheld devices are having on the next generation.

In the past, conversations with parents and children vis à vis computers centered on visual hygiene and the importance of proper working distance and frequent breaks. We would also prescribe some sort of non-glare lens to try and reduce fatigue from screen time. But now, with technology’s light-speed changes, I can’t help but wonder if this is enough.

BLUES CLUES
You can’t open an optometry journal or attend a meeting today without hearing about blue light and its effect on our overall health, and our eyesight in particular. No matter where it comes from (the sun, tablets, computers, LED lights), blue light””that short, high-energy wavelength which refracts more quickly than other colors””causes glare. Because there are no blue light photoreceptors in the macula, this is absorbed inside the eye, affecting our central vision. Some studies have shown that blue light can induce up to a full diopter of blur. When we filter blue light, however, we significantly reduce these issues, and are able to improve a patient’s visual performance.

Another effect of blue light is the suppression of melatonin, that all-important hormone which regulates our body’s biological clock. Harvard Health estimates upwards of 53% of melatonin can be suppressed by using backlit devices. In other words, exposure to blue light at night can lead to serious sleep issues, including poor quality of sleep and less overall sleep. (If you have a teenager at home you know what I mean.)

There are also serious health issues to consider. In fact, the American Medical Association (AMA) has stated, “Exposure to excessive blue light at night, including extended use of various electronic media, can disrupt sleep or exacerbate sleep disorders, especially in children and adolescents.”

In our office, our focus is mostly on children and teens who are spending a great deal of time on computers, iPads, and phones, both for school and recreation. Experts are now looking at connections between poor sleep and symptoms that are similar to attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Several studies, in fact, have shown that children today have lost about an hour of sleep over the last few decades, and at least 25% of children 5 and under have some sort of sleep issue. Consistent sleep, especially REM sleep, is extremely important for children for proper growth and development.

LENS AWARENESS
What can we as ECPs do to protect our patients from the negative effects of blue light? There are now a number of lenses on the market that either reflect or absorb blue light, protecting our eyes from these harmful rays, and that can also lead to less fatigue, improved visual performance, and better overall vision.

Crizal Prevenciaâ„¢ No-Glare lenses (Essilor of America, Inc.): Crizal Prevencia No-Glare lenses selectively filter out harmful light, while letting beneficial light pass through. These lenses deflect harmful blue-violet light by 20%. Crizal Prevencia lenses also feature an E-SPF value of 25, which means they provide your eyes with 25 times more protection from UV than with no lens at all. In addition, Crizal Prevencia lenses also provide superior clarity of vision by resisting glare, scratches, smudges, dust, and water.

BluTech (Eye Solutions): Using proprietary technology that mimics nature, BluTech lenses have an infusion of ocular lens pigment to offer comprehensive protection against harmful light while improving visual performance. The lenses filter blue light without altering color perception for the patient, and also block UV. They are available as indoor and outdoor (sunglass) lenses through an extensive network of optical laboratories with options in plano, single vision Rx, flat-top 28 Rx, and progressive designs from Signet-Armorlite, Inc. (Kodak), VSP Optics Group (UNITY), HOYA Vision Care, North America, and Shamir Insight, Inc.

Recharge EX3 (HOYA): The Recharge EX3 lens combines the blue-light reflecting Recharge AR treatment with the Super Hi-Vision EX3 AR, providing a lens with enhanced scratch resistance and the ability to protect wearers from both UV and blue light. HOYA recommends using Recharge EX3 on all lenses, especially combined with Sync, Hoya’s single vision lens designed specifically to keep wearers eyes relaxed and reduce eyestrain on digital devices.

Full disclosure: I wear both a clear lens that reflects blue light and a BluTech lens in the office, as does my staff, and I plan on checking my little guy (only 16 months old) before I allow him to play with my i-devices.

I have made it my mission in our office to speak to every patient about blue light, and how it affects both the health of their eyes and their visual performance. I have found this discussion especially valuable when talking to children and their parents. Many parents are increasingly concerned about the amount of time their children spend on digital devices and feel helpless about how to protect them. I make time to speak plainly about the real effects of blue light on our eyes, and make it easy for them to make good choices to protect their children. I firmly believe that every patient should be wearing at least one of these types of lenses, often multiple pairs.

Discussing blue light will help differentiate your practice, increase revenue and profit, and greatly improve patient satisfaction and retention in your office.

Jennifer L. Stewart is in private practice at Norwalk Eye Care in Norwalk, CT.

WHERE TO FIND IT:

Essilor of America, Inc. •800-542-5668 •essilorusa.com

Eye Solutions Technologies •866-704-0845 •blutechlenses.com

HOYA Vision Care, North America •877-528-1939 •hoyavision.com

Signet Armorlite, Inc. •800-950-5367 •signetarmorlite.com

Shamir Insight, Inc. •877-514-8330 •shamirlens.com

VSP Optics Group •800-852-7600 •vspopticsgroup.com

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