Problems & Conditions

Problems & Conditions

Blue LightClick here to download the 2017 blue light/digital eye strain report.

What Is Blue Light?

Blue light, also known as high energy visible (HEV) light, is a type of light with short wavelengths emitting a higher energy. Blue light penetrates deep into the eye, so exposure may result in:

  • Damage to the retina exposing the eye to hidden spikes in intensity
  • Long-term vision problems such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts
  • Suppressing the natural release of melatonin, disrupting sleep

Aside from sunlight, digital screens – like those of TVs, computer/laptops, smart phones and tablets – are the most common source of individuals' blue light exposure.

More than 80 percent of Americans report using digital devices in the hour before going to sleep, which has been shown to disrupt sleep patterns by increasing alertness to the brain.

How Does Digital Eye Strain Come Into Play?

With an increase in digital technology, there has been an increase in blue light exposure. In turn, many individuals suffer from the physical eye discomfort after screen use for longer than two hours at a time, also known as digital eye strain.

What Is The Impact On Children?

Children today have grown up with technology always at their fingertips. It seems as if children learn how to use a computer/laptop, smart phone or tablet before they can walk. Whether they're playing the latest game or doing homework, technology permeates a child's life and does so at a young age.

In fact, 76.5 percent of Americans report their child(ren) – those under the age of 18 – gets more than two hours of screen time per day. And 55.6 percent report their child(ren) experiences one of the following after being exposed to more than two hours of screen time:

  • Headaches
  • Neck/shoulder pain
  • Eye strain, dry or irritated eyes
  • Reduced attention span
  • Poor behavior
  • Irritability

What Can Be Done To Reduce Exposure To Blue Light?

Eyewear for children is available with lenses featuring blue light-filtering capabilities – that reduce the negative effects of blue light – as well as anti-reflective or anti-glare properties. This technology can help minimize the negative effects blue light has on the body's circadian rhythm, which can hinder a good night's sleep. This technology also reduces the symptoms of digital eye strain.

However, children don't have to sacrifice style for function when it comes to eyewear. These specialized lenses can be incorporated into virtually any pair of frames, so children, with the help of their parents, can choose eyewear that complements their personal look, while meeting their eye health needs.

While 78.3 percent of parents are somewhat concerned about the impact of digital devices on their child(ren), only 29.1 percent report taking their child(ren) for an annual eye exam as part of back-to-school preparation.

The Vision Council recommends individuals and their child(ren) visit a local eyecare provider to discuss their digital habits and what eyewear solutions are available to relieve the symptoms of digital eyes train and reduce exposure to blue light.

Additionally, parents should encourage their child(ren) to take breaks when using digital devices; make sure child(ren) don't put screens too close to their eyes, especially for long periods of time; and should ensure their child(ren)'s workspace is set up properly with a chair promoting correct posture with feet flat on the floor.

Highlights From the Report