An ounce of prevention.
If an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, then parents who invest in protection against the harmful light emitted by computer screens and most lamps may save their children from a range of blue light problems in the future.
Blue light is a high-energy visible light that enters our eyes naturally, as part of the full spectrum of sunlight. Blue light also is produced artificially by incandescent, halogen, fluorescent and LED bulbs. Other sources emitting blue light are the screens of computer monitors, digital tablets and smartphones.
Blue light problems often are not readily apparent. But they are there and they have the potential to be disruptive in our children’s lives today and in the future.
After blue light passes through the cornea and lens, it reaches the retina. There, according to medical authorities, is where problems can begin.
Blue light problems can include eye strain and irritation, and later lead to premature aging and macular degeneration. Blue light also has been linked to attention-deficit conditions.
Other blue light problems include insomnia and related sleep cycle disorders. They can result from disruptions in our bodies’ ability to secrete melatonin, the hormone that helps regulate the natural rhythms that enable us to sleep and ward off various diseases. A growing number of studies also link blue light exposure to cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
Blue light problems affect people around the world, and children are not immune. In fact, young people spend many hours daily in front of screens as they study, read and play. Many schools are becoming equipped to provide tablet reading opportunities, which adds to the amount of time children are exposed to blue light.
Minimizing risk among children.
The increasing amount of time young people spend with devices emitting blue light is a growing concern among medical professionals. One recent study found that children’s eyes take in more blue light than the eyes of adults.
Those who want to minimize their children’s risk of suffering blue light problems can take steps now, says Dr. Edward J. Huggett, a Pediatric Vision Clinic of the University of Houston graduate who developed the Low Vision Clinic at the James Haley VA Medical Center Outpatient Clinic. He also formerly served as the eye physician for Major League Baseball’s Toronto Blue Jays.
“We all know we are relying more and more on digital devices to help us learn and for entertainment, so it’s not an option to ban our children from computers and phones,” said Dr. Huggett. “Fortunately today we have several very beneficial options that can help us protect our children from the possibility of developing blue light problems.”
Several physician-developed products available today can reduce the amount of blue light entering our eyes. They include study lighting and screen filters designed for computers, tablets and smartphones.
“Parents who want to reduce the likelihood of blue light problems developing in their children can take steps toward safer studying, reading, gaming and other digital activities with blue light reduction (BLR) lighting and screen filters,” Dr. Huggett said.
Screen filters are available for phones and other mobile devices, as well as laptop and desktop monitors.
They are designed to filter out the blue light emitted from those devices so that less of it reaches our eyes’ retina.
Dr. Huggett noted that children aren’t likely to show signs of macular degeneration or other age-related disorders, but the damage caused early in life can lead to blue light problems later in life.
“Many doctors recommend taking steps in protecting our children from overexposure as our actions now can lead to fewer blue light problems in the near and long-term,” he said.
So an ounce of prevention today may very well be worth a pound of cure in the long run.
Parents who install BLR lamps and digital screen filters, and who monitor the amount of time spent with artificial lighting, computers and other digital devices will be investing in precious prevention.